Picks and Pans Review: Unleashed
Toby Keith (DreamWorks)
It was not imperative that every musically literate American write a song about Sept. 11, so Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)" seems like one flag wave too many: "You'll be sorry that you messed/ With the U.S. of A./ 'Cause we'll put a boot in your ass/ It's the American way." That crude, provocative song, though, is far from the most memorable track on this otherwise effective album, which ranges from Jimmy Buffett-like tropical pop to the raucous country of the Willie Nelson duet "Beer for My Horses." Keith is no Waylon Jennings, but his barroom bluster holds up fine against Nelson's more reflective voice and persona. "It's All Good," meanwhile, is an ingratiating, swingy tune Keith wrote with Scott Emerick.
Keith, who had a huge hit last year with "I Wanna Talk About Me," uses too many of today's catchphrases as song titles ("Who's Your Daddy?," "Good to Go to Mexico," "It Works for Me," etc.)—but his voice is fine, full of honky-tonk energy. Keith has lately been busy slumming in phone-service commercials with ballplayer Mike Piazza, but this album should re-focus attention on his good-time music.
Bottom Line: A little too much Yankee Doodling, but otherwise dandy
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