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Tim McGraw

Southern Voice – 2009 (Curb)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Tim McGraw

Tim McGraw knows what works for him on a bunch of songs tending to look at the human soul and the choices one makes in life.

The sadness of Good Girls comes through loud and clear in a tail of friendship gone deadly wrong. McGraw gets ultra-introspective on If I Died Today. On the one hand, it's morbid, of course, but on the other, McGraw challenges the listener to consider how they live their lives and want to be remembered.

Forever Seventeen looks at an aging woman still trying to find herself and throws down the gauntlet to her with lines like "you don't need someone else/No, it's hard enough to learn to love yourself."

Where other songs try to spell it out loud and clear, it's my way or the highway concerning the southern lifestyle, McGraw shies away from that on the title cut and second single. It's not so much more than name checking various Southern folks and ways of life, but it doesn't have the overt hubris of some other country songs. He's proud of his roots without being obnoxious about it.

It's a Business Doing Pleasure With You is commercial McGraw - it's not one of the best songs here as it doesn't have a ton to say lyrically, but it is catch. Fortunately, McGraw gives more pauses to the lyrics of his songs than whether it's viable radio-wise. That's especially important considering he wrote none of the 12 songs.

Once again, McGraw utilizes his backing band the Dancehall Doctors, going against the usual grain of using session players. They sound just fine, although that sound is no more or less country than McGraw's recent albums.

With a bunch of strong material that fits McGraw, his streak of well-thought out and conceived music continues.