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Toby Keith

Drinks After Work – 2013 (Show Dog - Universal label)

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

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CDs by Toby Keith

If 52-year old Toby Keith has learned anything after 20 years, it is to stick with a winning formula. Working with longtime collaborators Scotty Emerick, Bobby Pinson and Rivers Rutherford, "Drinks After Work" is chock full of blue collar ethic, humor and some heartbreak.

Most of the album is driven by big hooks and country guitar, However, Keith experiments a bit stylistically with computerized hip hop on the party anthem opener, Shut Up And Hold On, a Buffet-esque steel drum on I'll Probably Be Out Fishin' and the bluegrass tinged Last Living Cowboy.

It is rare that Keith doesn't at least have a co-writing credit on any given song in his discography. Such is the case here, save for the title track. Nonetheless, his team of co-writers keeps the lyrics right in Keith's wheelhouse, and his unmistakable baritone makes the 40 minutes as familiar as ever. If there is one thing the Ford F-150 spokesman shares with the product, it's reliability.

Two of the best songs are exclusive to the Deluxe Edition. Refreshingly absent is the lack of a two fisted military anthem. In its place is Call a Marine, a hilarious homage to leathernecks. Chuckie's Gone is the clear highlight. It is an honest and poignant memorial for his longtime bassist and bandleader Chuck Goff, who died in a February car accident.

Though the ballads are tender, the majority of the album maintains his signature grit. Hardcore fans should consider the exclusive Walmart Deluxe 'ZinePak Edition that includes two drink coasters and a 64-page magazine with exclusive interviews and photos, cocktail recipes and song lyrics. That's about as close as you'll get to the gimmicky Red Solo Cup here.