Yes, time flies and all of us get older. Some of us even mature. Ten years ago, you could have got good odds that achy-breaky Billy Ray Cyrus would not be one of those folks. But he definitely shows signs of doing just that on his latest CD.
Cyrus is no fool, and he certainly knows which side his bread is buttered on. Accordingly, most of the tunes here play up to his predominately female fan base. "I Luv Ya" is a love song that reveals he knows exactly how many freckles his paramour has. "Bread Alone" is about satisfying a woman by giving her all your love. "I Still Believe" is a long apology and plea for forgiveness. So is "Without You." So is "Tell Me."
But before you write him off as Nashville's answer to Michael Bolton, listen to the less straightforward "She Don't Love (She Don't Hate Me)" wherein a man runs into his ex and is upset about the fact that she's so obviously over him. On "Nobody," he addresses the issue of homelessness. And even though he goes to lengths to say that the war in the desert has done some good, the first single "Back to Memphis" is a heartbreaking reminder of the human cost of such conflicts. (Lest anybody accuse him of being antiwar, Cyrus also includes an acoustic remake of "Some Gave All" and does not improve on the original.)
This generous 15-track package showsCyrus at a crossroads. Whether he reinvents himself as a genuine risk-taking artist or whether female fans start showing up at his concerts in lingerie remains to be seen.