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Toby Keith

Bullets in the Gun – 2010 (Show Dog-Universal)

Reviewed by John Walker

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CDs by Toby Keith

Toby Keith is back with his annual release, once again delivering a record stocked with blue collar scenarios and tales of life. While his songs do paint a picture, at times they lack the refreshing desire of something fresh and new.

The record opens with the title cut co-written by Rivers Rutherford. This song tells a story, but leaves the feeling of having heard it before. Think Robert Earl Keen and mix in the Cliff Note version of Townes Van Zandt's Pancho & Lefty, without the compelling saga. By making the story modern, including the Cadillac De Ville, it falls short of its potential old west stage.

Of the 10 songs, 6 are co-written by Bobby Pinson. Keith delivers some of his best here with his clever wit and sincere passion. Somewhere Else has a definite Jason Mraz vibe, and the lyrical craftsmanship stands out well. Drive It On Home is a hard driving truckers song, which sounds eerily like Garth Brooks' Ain't Goin Down with a similar beat and delivery as well. Hey, if it works might as well use it, right? Ain't Breakin' Nothin' is perhaps the freshest of these songs, with catchy phrasing and guitar rhythm.

Keith closes with his own distinctive wit and humor on Get Out of My Car. Sometimes you feel as if he writes songs like these because they make great videos. Well, this one certainly fits the bill. While it may never make public radio with its blunt sexual tones, it does show Keith at his best, utilizing his keen tongue in cheek wit and charm.

The deluxe edition includes four live songs which highlight Keith's musical influences including Paycheck, Jennings, Roger Miller and closes out with a great version of Gordon Lightfoot's Sundown.