Kid Rock - Sweet Southern Sugar
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Sweet Southern Sugar (Broken Bow, 2017)

Kid Rock

Reviewed by Robert Loy

Kid Rock ended his association with Warner Brothers Records and moved to the Nashville-based BBR Records (a division of BMG), home of stars like Jason Aldean and Trace Adkins, and the name of the album certainly evokes Dixie, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's morphing into Kid Country. After all, his lengthy Wikipedia page lists several eras in the man's career - the hip-hop era, the rap-rock era, the heartland rock era, et cetera - and there's no reason to think that this phase is going to last any longer than the others.

Or that it's even really a phase. It may just be that Rock is attempting to have his hoecake and eat it too. There's a lot more rock and rap than country. And heartland rock. And Motown covers. Although he recently quashed rumors of a senate run, Kid Rock does seem like a politician on his 11th album - a traditional politician who tries to please everybody. But what are listeners who like the old-school liquor-laden tracks like "Raining Whiskey" or the homesick vibe on "Tennessee Mountain Top" going to make of it when Rock goes bombastic and profane, (i.e. like a more modern politician), with lyrics like "Yea I ball like Betty so they call me the Yeti"? That's from the track "Grandpa's Jam," and it must be the most misleading song title since Madonna's "Like a Virgin." Surely not even the most senescent senior citizen is going to mistake one of the reigning queens of pop for a boy and sing "I'll fuck you in your ass quick with Taylor Swift's dick."

And how are listeners who love all the chest-thumping self-aggrandizement of songs like "Greatest Show on Earth" going to react to not one, but two, tracks about suicide prevention ("Stand the Pain" and "Back to the Otherside"(sic))? He even flirts with balladry on the lovesick "I Wonder" and slows down the tempo considerably on the Four Tops' classic "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch") (Although Rock for some reason (short attention span maybe?) shortens the title to "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch"). Both of these moves turn out to be blunders because they draw attention to the the narrowness of his vocal range.

Kid Rock himself has called his sound "creatively confused." But the moral of Aesop's fable about the miller, his son and their donkey is as true now as it was 2,500 years ago: "In trying to please all, he had pleased none."

CDs by Kid Rock

Sweet Southern Sugar, 2017 Born Free, 2010

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