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Toby Keith

Shock'n Y'all – 2003 (DreamWorks Nashville)

Reviewed by Rick Teverbaugh

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CDs by Toby Keith

Maybe "shock" is too surprising a word because Toby Keith has taken so many artistic chances in his musical life that those following his career would hardly regard the 12 songs here as shocking. But certainly many would have to admit surprise that he continues to push the envelope and take chances when a slower, safer course even for an album or two would be understood.

There's no safety net under most of these songs, all but one co-written by Keith. He has a hit ("I Love This Bar"), an anthem ("American Soldier"), a sensitive ballad ("Nights I Can't Remember, Friends I'll Never Forget"), a novelty ("Sweet") and a couple of others that are sure to create at least some minor controversy that he seems unable to avoid. Thrown in for good measure are a couple of songs labeled The Bus Songs, or tunes written for the enjoyment of the band, that turned out to be live favorites and have been included here. "Weed With Willie" has already gained legendary status.

There's even more to this disc than the music. The CD is enhanced with an interview, some additional footage from the "Bar" video and Keith's Ford truck commercials.

What makes this CD so special is Keith's own comfort level. He allows the listener to know and see all of his facets as both a person and as a musician with the confidence that his fans accept and enjoy who he is. The music is presented with astonishing confidence and sincerity. His musicians seem to be in nearly perfect synchronicity with one another and his vision. This album is another very strong outing from a man truly on a roll.