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Will W. Martin RSS Feed (Woodland, CA United States)

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Stacy Adams Men's Portello Oxford,Red/White,14 M US
Stacy Adams Men's Portello Oxford,Red/White,14 M US
Price: $48.80

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing shoe---but Stacy Adams sizing means go down a full size AT LEAST, November 9, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
First off, lets address sizing- Stacy Adams has a history of making their shoes really large for the assigned size, but it seems to have become even more the case the last few years. Now, for someone like me (size 15 or 16 in most shoes-I'm not a maybe 15 more like a 14, I'm a solid 15 heading for 16) that's GOOD because many dress shoes stop at 13 and even SA which tends to have bigger sizes only goes to 14 in many models.

What does this mean? In general with Stacy Adams shoes I advise going down AT LEAST one size. If you're in a size range where half sizes are available make it a size and half. I wear a solid 15 and this model in a 14 gives me borderline too much toe room; its a narrow toebox up front so I doubt I'd fit in a 13 but this definitely a proper to roomy fit in size 14 when in almost anything else I wear a 15 and up. When in doubt if you have D width feet I suggest buying your normal size AND a size smaller--if buying via Amazon and using free shipping outbound its no harm no foul because they eat the return shipping and do an immediate credit when the tracking logs upon shipment back of the pair you don't need.

Now, as for the shoe itself? I have never received so many compliments on a shoe--and I was a sneaker collector to the tune of 100's of pairs at a time for years so I've had plenty. In two days multiple people were glowing about these in the red and white variant with my navy suit. They truly look like a million bucks and feel very comfortable. Longevity? Who knows especially with leather soles (and on a shoe not worth having resoled) -but I paid $50 so in a 6 shoe rotation if I get a year 18 months out of them that's more than okay (for reference that would be about 40-60 wearings and I'm not hard on my shoes at 6 foot 5 215 and working a desk job) and I think I you could get well more than that depending on your standards-- I tend to cycle out shoes pretty quickly.

I rarely own more than one of the same pair but if these wear well the first few months I'll definitely be buying other colors and that's high praise from me. Highly recommended if you account for the sizing variables noted above.

Sundown Heaven Town (Deluxe) [+digital booklet]
Sundown Heaven Town (Deluxe) [+digital booklet]
Price: $14.49

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sundown Heaven Town: an Easy to Listen to Trip Down the Memory Lane of McGraw's Career to This Point, September 16, 2014
In the past week I've had the opportunity to listen to Sundown Heaven Town all the way through at least three dozen times (and some tracks twice that amount) and the thing that I've been the most struck by is how I hear aspects of almost all of Tim's albums in these tracks, something that initially confounded me until I realized that is exactly the point of the album.

In many respects Sundown Heaven Town is a deliberately derivative experience that almost plays like a greatest hits album would in its lack of any overarching theme-there's nothing particularly new or original here from what Tim has done before. Whereas Two Lanes of Freedom was kind of a re-coming out party that was specifically intended to ensure Tim's continuing relevance in the drastically shifting country music landscape by coming at you with a fresh and urgent sound, Sundown Heaven Town is a group of songs that collectively tip their hat to the various styles and atmospheric themes of his past work. While some may look at this as a negative thing, I do not because this isn't something Tim has done before so being able to kick back and take something of a trip down memory lane is a very easy listening experience.

Those with an ear for more country tinged tracks will enjoy Shotgun Rider, Meanwhile Back at Mama's (yet another fine Tom Douglas song Tim has recorded), Diamond Rings and Old Barstools and Portland Maine due to its outstanding use of steel guitar. For the windows rolled down and radio cranked times, the punch of Overrated, Dust, Keep On Truckin and Lookin for that Girl will please. And for the reflective moments, Words Are Medicine, Sick of Me (with a good dose of tongue in cheek), Last Turn Home and Still On the Line will satisfy.

Another really notable trait of this album is the production, mix and mastering which is REALLY well done. There are many spots of intricate instrumentation that, especially from a CD source or minimum 320 digital rip with better equipment, is unusually well defined (particularly for a mainstream/popular release) with a broad soundstage that conveys a lot to the listener without overloading your ears or losing characteristics of the musicianship in a muddled mix.

If I did have to point out things lacking about the album as a whole, it would be that A) there's a bit of an overabundance of "cheesy" lyrics-even standout tracks like Words Are Medicine which was penned in part by the great Tom Douglas suffer from this and it might be epitomized by Keep On Truckin (which Tim shares co-write credit with the Warren Brothers) which, while a fun, positive and upbeat track, spends its verses laying out a laundry list of sayings that just flip them in reverse (and in a nonsensical regard at spots) and that B) the Deluxe tracks are in large part throwaway songs that appear to have been included to merely allow Tim's good friends the Warren Brothers to rack up some royalty credits as well as seemingly having been written in the throes of a mid-life crisis time warp back to the days of late teens and early 20's hormonal spikes.

In the end, as I've noted, I think this album will please old fans (and maybe even bring back some that have drifted off) and new ones alike and is an enjoyable experience as Tim has his full range of chops on full display. From the Just To See You Smile shuffle of Shotgun Rider, the reverence and faith focus of Words Are Medicine that harkens back to Drugs or Jesus, the dark and artistic tinged tone of Portland, Maine that evokes the entire Southern Voice album, the sonic polish and wall of sound of Still On the Line which points to Emotional Traffic right down to the upbeat, youthful punch of Dust that reminds of us of Something Like That, Sundown Heaven Town is Tim McGraw showing off what he's done and causes me to wonder what he's planning for the future as he approaches the big 50.

All this paired with the fact that Tim is a better vocalist than he's ever been and has become the master of his craft to a degree he has few if any peers has me believing that with the passage of time Sundown Heaven Town will not stand out among Tim's body of work for any specific reason, but it very well may be the album people most easily enjoy and reach for first when they want a well-executed album that can be a catalyst for taking their minds away from whatever is going on at a particular moment in time-and if that isn't the purest definition of what constitutes great music, I don't know what is.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 12, 2014 5:15 PM PDT

Invicta Men's 11586 Subaqua Chronograph Black Perforated Dial Two Tone Stainless Steel Watch
Invicta Men's 11586 Subaqua Chronograph Black Perforated Dial Two Tone Stainless Steel Watch
Offered by Timepiece Trading
Price: $389.05
2 used & new from $369.35

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bold, visually stunning and impossible to ignore. A watch for a mans man who likes what he likes no matter what others think, July 3, 2014
A stunning timepiece in person; I've owned hundreds of Invictas over the years and several SAN IV's (as well as dozens of SAN III's, SAN V's and SAS's) and visually this model is one of the most impressive. I don't know what was up with this model, it's out there at some etailers but places like ShopHQ never got it and it seems to have flown under the radar a bit which I could say is a shame, but that just means anyone that owns one with be all the more unique.

One thing to note is this carries the Ronda 5040F; most people are undoubtedly familiar with the ubiquitous 5040C and 5040E but the F is more rare, more expensive and many regard it as in the same echelon as the 2824-2 . Most SAN IV chrono models shipped with the 5040E which while a great movement the visual aspect of that framed chrono hand can get old. The F is actually a more complex movement with a pointer date; where the E gives you DAY at the 12 o'clock and the DATE at the standard 4 o'clock, the F gives you the DAY AND MONTH at 12 o'clock with a pointer date-there's another hand that points to the DATE on a ring around the edge. To find this movement in a watch for basically the same price as watches with the E is an amazing value (one note: I didn't buy on Amazon, I paid $250 shipped brand new from an authorized Invicta dealer on that certain auction site).

Many people wonder about the weight and size of this watch-well it's a big watch and it's a heavy watch. If you're used to 42mm Citizens from your local retailer you're in for a shock with this watch so you've been warned. I will say this-just like anything you acclimate to things over time. I wore a 54 inch Venom on a bracelet for 2 straight years everyday before I jumped back in the watch game and bought a 50mm SAN III and this 52mm SAN IV...and they seem small and light (almost not to my liking). If nothing else if you're into big watches or can stick with it, the visual impact they make is fantastic and not at all clownish-and this is coming from a man who while I'm 6 foot 5 inches tall and 210 lbs, I have a 7 inch wrist.

Now to something I think needs to be addressed: there's a very large divide among men-and women for that matter as it pertains to themselves and men-when it comes to men wearing jewelry or accessories that are gold, PARTICULARLY yellow gold. Overall I'd say tastes in the last 20 years or so are along the lines that yellow gold screams "old man" or "tacky". Myself personally had never bought any form of jewelry or accessory with yellow gold (I owned a rosegold and black SAS for years that people drooled over on a daily basis-women in particular loved it) because I was afraid of being perceived that way. Well we grow and change and at some point I think all of us stop caring what others think and we do what we like for us and I'm no different. That said I'd never own a watch that is yellow gold as to its base color in a solid or two tone configuration (think this watch except the black part is gold and the gold part is black)-that's too much. BUT--the whole reason I bought THIS piece is because the accents are the gold; the primary color is black, you only have gold on the bezel, the center of the bracelet and the pushers. While this configuration lessens the impact of the gold color, it also enhances it due to the contrast. For me, this is one of the few watches where I would say if you're ever on the fence about yellow gold, go for it. Plus, being a Mustang fan, its hard to resist a watch that mirrors the color scheme of the ever famous Hertz Special Edition.

In closing, this is a bold, visually stunning and solid timepiece with a rare and complex movement. Personally I wouldn't pay over $300 for it BUT $300 tends to be my cap anyway for watches-in terms of true market value I'd say if you can get this for under $350 shipped with tax, its a good price due to the inclusion of the 5040F.

Highly recommended for men 25 and up who know how to dress well even casually (like even if you're in shorts and a tshirt everything is well fitting and ironed) and who likes to make a statement, even what might be considered a somewhat garish one, with what he wears or even drives (example: me-I wear watches like this, I wear flashy size 15 basketball shoes and I drive a car with racing stripes you can hear coming a mile away). If you're even slightly understated or care if others like what you wear, don't buy this. Generally anyone still wanting the approval of the masses is advised to stick with whatever the hottest trend is or dress and present themselves in as neutral a fashion as possible.

Price: $1.29

5.0 out of 5 stars If it ain't broke....., February 18, 2014
This review is from: Rewind (MP3 Music)
With a new year comes a new single from Rascal Flatts and it proves to be one of their stronger post Unstoppable singles. Over the years RF has been nothing if fairly consistent-they don't really push boundaries too much and they don't seem to have an "evolution" of any kind that you can track like some artists do. And that's fine. I really don't think many more fans could be gathered by changing the formula and, to be honest, there's nobody quite as adept at country/pop harmony vocalizing and crisp, polished studio tracks so as long as that continues most of us that have liked them from the beginning will continue to do so.

That said there's nothing really to say about Rewind particuarly-it doesn't stand out in any particlar way outside its fun, catchy and has a few nice little turns (the pace change and stall at "one, more time" is brilliant) and will make for some nice windows down, stereo cranked plays this spring. It gets 5 stars from me because its what it is, it doesn't try to be anything else-and I like it.

Tie It Up
Tie It Up
Offered by SONY Music Entertainment Downloads LLC.
Price: $1.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Shift in Tone from the Greatest Pop Vocalist Alive, July 20, 2013
This review is from: Tie It Up (MP3 Music)
While Kelly has done some dipping of the toe in country music lately (as that seems to be the trendy thing to do these days), this is her most outright foray. The song, right up front, is written in part by Shane McAnally who I consider to be on the forefront of what will be viewed as a new direction and tone in country music over the next decade; finish that off with it being on Columbia Nashville and I can see the upcoming album being quite the hybrid. While I like the song, it can't really decide what to be; while that's not an issue when blending rock with country (modern country is basically 1970's rock-see Tim McGraws Set This Circus Down album and Bon Jovi's Lost Highway album for examples), it IS when blending POP and country. Kelly's voice is its usual powerful albeit increasingly raspy self-which I actually like-but this genre will not allow her to stretch with power the way she is so talented at doing. I'll reserve final judgment for the final album on a whole, but I can't give this more than 4 stars-and it only gets that because it takes risks and the lyrics are top notch.

Drinks After Work
Drinks After Work

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of His Better Efforts Since How Do You Like Me Now, July 20, 2013
This review is from: Drinks After Work (MP3 Music)
Believe it or not I actually thought TK peaked with the How Do You Like Me Now album; I felt he became incredibly formulaic, paint by numbers and political. Part of this problem in my mind was his refusal to record anything he didn't write and I always said if he actually dumped that and recorded some of the incredible music written by the Nashvile songsmiths he'd be better for it-so here you go. TK didn't write this song and the result is actually quite good. Some critics have knocked the song for being so far removed from what he's done in the past its jarring-well one person's jarring is anothers (this one's) refreshing.

So kudos to TK for stepping outside the box a little-more of this going forward and I might start buying his albums again and I would bet so will many others who he's lost over the years.

Flowmaster 817511 Axle-back System 409S - Dual Rear Exit - Outlaw - Aggressive Sound
Flowmaster 817511 Axle-back System 409S - Dual Rear Exit - Outlaw - Aggressive Sound
Price: $418.70
85 used & new from $376.68

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Tone and Performance-SEE UPDATE, March 22, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I was originally hesitant to buy the Outlaws and was leaning towards the American Thunder Classics because people kept saying how loud the Outlaws were and clips I listened to supported that; I also had a CAI and tune on the car which had already enhanced the exhaust note so that raised more concern that it would be overly loud. But, at the end of the day I figured I'd rather it be a bit too loud then be a bit too quiet and be disappointed.

And that was the right decision. The Outlaws are loud-though to my ear IN the car they don't sound that loud-don't get me wrong, from stop up to pick your RPM, if you're accelerating you hear these and you hear them good. At idle you hear a decent grumble at all times which is exactly what I wanted yet once you're not accelerating any longer all you hear is a light exhaust note in the car (and I mean LIGHT); the only time these "drone" at crusing speeds, which I happen to like BTW, is at 80 mph and above or approx 2300 RPMs and up.

Now, like I said, I have an Airaid CAI and a Steeda tune so the note is even more aggressive than stock but I'm still considering either a catted X Pipe or Off Road X Pipe. My primary concern is I DO think an O/R X pipe with these would be really loud and perhaps too much so for daily driving but I would imagine a very aggressive but tolerable tone with an X Pipe fitted behind the cats.

4 WEEK POST INSTALL UPDATE: The Outlaws are LOUD after about 3 weeks of break in-do not buy these if you don't want heads to turn, your neighbors to make "friendly" comments about your new exhaust, random women to stop you in parking lots and an extra couple notches on the stereo to hear your music. Anyone that is reviewing these and is saying they are not "that loud" have either not installed a Cold Air Intake and/or tune OR they haven't let the Outlaws break in (or they are possibly used to something even louder like Pype Bombs or simply an older car with no mufflers at all). On cold start up with my garage door closed my garage windows visibly vibrate; at wide open throttle these SCREAM-I mean many muffler get quieter after 3000 RPM's, these get LOUDER. I reqularly have people walking AWAY from me on sidewalks nearly a city block away turn and look at me and that's with me light on the throttle under 2000 RPM's. A friend the other night told me he could hear me obnoxiously so as I drove by a local Starbucks-and he was indoors. I've been stopped by two women totally cold in parking lots just this week after I pulled in under normal, light driving conditions to comment on (as one put it) the "pure sexy" that was the sound-my best friend (also a woman) heard them for the first time last week and proclaimed "THAT'S a panty dropper sound". And with ALL that said if you need to keep a low profile, you can but you need to be easy on the throttle and go slow. And that's EXACTLY what I wanted-but not everyone does want that, so you have been warned. When I first put these on I considered an H Pipe or X Pipe to add some kick to the sound, but now I'm glad I waited for the break in-these would be UNBEARABLE on a daily driver with a CAI and H/X pipe. Finally, the "drone" that so many complain of is now very present at any speed over 55-and its always right THERE at 70 and up. Frankly I'm not sure why people don't like that-maybe some have more sensitive ears than me or maybe its just a difference in preference and taste; personally, I want to always have that reminder that 400 HP is 18 inches from my toes on the other side of that firewall...and this exhaust is quite clear about that.

I few installation notes: installing these requires jacking the car or preferably putting the rear end of the car on ramps. That along with a socket set is really all you need to install these. One caveat is that you MUST have deep sockets to fit over the bolts AND the extender. It also wouldn't hurt to have a socket wrench with an extendable handle. The biggest issue is the hangar bolt on the forward hangar that is ABOVE the muffle and on the have to remove the other hangar and get the exhaust nice and loose so you can shove the wrench up in there to loosen it. Once the stocks are off, installing the Outlaws is incredibly easy. Total install for anyone remotely familiar with working on cars should take one person about 2 hours max with the hardest part being removing the stock mufflers.

The fit and finish are first rate and shipping was quick and well packaged (though I found it amusing that the mufflers are manufactured at the Flowmaster plant 10 miles from my house and were shipped across the country twice to get to me). Pricing was excellent with the 25% off promotion, shipped for under $300.

Overall I am VERY pleased-the Outlaws give the Mustang that muscle car sound with a nice deep rumble that is the Flowmaster signature and loud without being glass shattering loud. Highly recommended.

Two Lanes Of Freedom [Accelerated Deluxe Edition]
Two Lanes Of Freedom [Accelerated Deluxe Edition]
Price: $13.29
45 used & new from $4.15

34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars McGraw Roars Back to the Forefront of Country Music with Fresh, Reinvigorated and Free Spirited Two Lanes of Freedom, February 5, 2013
Ever since Tim McGraw released what many regard as his watershed work Live Like You Were Dying 8 ½ years ago I have had the sense that many have chalked him up as done, an artist past his prime. It's almost as if the (rightly deserved) accolades surrounding that album's title track and it's stratospheric sales led people to believe that he had nowhere to go but down after the, in the words of many critics, "album of his career". Believe me even I, who counts the three post LLYWD albums as among Tim's best work, wondered if he'd ever return to that level of popularity and recognition in the eyes of the casual listening public. Let me just say unequivocally-with Two Lanes of Freedom Tim McGraw has renewed the faith among his most loyal fans and casual listeners alike and laid to rest any doubts surrounding his move to Big Machine Records by delivering yet another incredible album and one this time that will equally satisfy those drawn to both his more artistic and fun material.

Two Lanes of Freedom definitely has a very forward looking and positive feel to it that I think many will find very appealing. Even the slower songs such as Nashville Without You, Book of John and Annie I Owe You a Dance carry with them optimism or a sweet glance to the past that carries you forward. Even what is the most "down" song on the record (and in my opinion one of the best) Friend of a Friend has an ending that leaves the ending open to the interpretation of the listener and it could easily be happy. Overall, Two Lanes of Freedom really truly feels FRESH-and it's not a quality I think can be quantified, it's more of a feel...almost as if the energy and vibe present during the recording is oozing through the music, something that is a trademark of truly great albums.

Two Lanes of Freedom - 10/10: Sets the tone for the entire album with an unbelievably earnest mood, multilayered guitar work and harmony vocals. As always with Tim's music, you can take the lyrics at face value or in the case of the title track, you can approach it from the broader point of view. One way or another the end of this song leaves you wanting more. Great way to start the album and, as a side note, you'll hear me mention harmony vocals a couple times in this review as they are more noticeably present than on Tim's past work and they don't take a back seat driving some sections of songs entirely (such as on Number 37405).

One of These Nights - 8/10: I actually consider this one of the weaker songs on the record (if not the weakest next to maybe Southern Girl). While its grown on me, the biggest issue I have with this song is its too specific along with just purely generic instrumentation-yes it very radio friendly and if helps propel sales fine, but it reeks a bit too much of "we need a radio friendly track". Whereas the title track allows the "broader" perspective, this one while you could theoretically apply it to times you've had, the pictures painted in the lyrics impose themselves on you. It also might be because I've not had many (if any) of said nights so it doesn't appeal to me. I will say this-I very much from about 2:18 to 2:34 I think Tim's vocals and the guitar work off the right channel is stellar.

Friend of a Friend - 10/10: Saying benchmark track on an album like this is kind of pointless-there's so many. I LOVE this song in large part because it's so damn well written-it's one of the better written songs I've heard the last 10 years. I write songs and poetry myself and it took me a little while but I suddenly realized that the chorus isn't written the way you think it is. In most songs when you say "don't you believe anything you matter what they say it's just not true, I don't spend all my days and my nights just missing you" you mean that you in fact are. I think that lyric here is ambiguous...that perhaps the writer in fact is NOT missing the woman in the song. Combine that with the totally open ended last verse that leaves the ending up to the interpretation and you have a song that's clever without seeming so which is the best kind. My understanding is the ending instrumentals ran well over 5 minutes in the studio and I believe it-so haunting and with, again, highly complementary background vocals I wish maybe they had gone on a bit longer. One of Tim's finer songs of his career and a stellar presence on Two Lanes.

Southern Girl - 7/10: Yeah I don't even know what to do with this song. Again, I have nothing I can associate with when it comes to this because I'm from California (and no, most women in California are nothing like California Girls OR California Gurls so the same incorrect stereotypes that apply there apply here too) and I also dislike the music which contains chords waaaay too reminiscent of other similar songs. I actually think Tim's vocals are really good on this track but I would guess I pass over this song 8 out of 10 times I listen to the album. Great if you have experience with the type of girls referred to but as close to a dud as you'll find on the album.

Truck Yeah (and Truck Yeah Live) - 10/10: Yee haw-bring it cause I know I'm going to get it for giving this a 10/10. It's funny because I truly had little love for this song when it came out. I think that was because I feared what it boded for the album as a whole-I was thinking "if this is anything like the rest of the album, Tim has lost it". Fortunately that is very much not the case and, as such, Truck Yeah now becomes a kick ass Jason Aldean-esque anthem which I found has grown on me immensely. The live version has some added live performance energy that is nice and I think it's a nice addition to the deluxe version which I would venture to guess will comprise probably 75-80% of all sales. Listen-I enjoy to all types of music including rap so the whole flap over the Lil' Wayne reference means nothing to me and for those up in arms about the play on words in the title? Are you one of us? Truck yeah.

Nashville Without You - 10/10: Normally I'm not very complimentary of songs that fill themselves with references to other songs much less those that are self-promoting about the, basically, Nashville music scene which probably means more to Tim than any of the listeners. BUT-I have to make an exception in this case because the song is so darn beautiful with incredible soul and instrumentation. Plus, I don't know what it is about Tim the last few albums but his voice is getting better and vocal more expressive with age and when he hits down notes it's amazing as when he sings "no woman standing by her man-in the place where it all began" and I just get goose bumps. Maybe the most well executed "Nashville/Country Music Homage song I've ever heard.

Book of John - 10/10: Wow. This is by far the simplest song on the album where a simple acoustic guitar and light percussion carries entire parts. And that makes such perfect sense because it allows the lyrics and the story they tell to carry the song-plus, once again, Tim's expressive vocals are just incredible and when he hits "and I know one day I'll be passing on, the Book of John" at 2:56 the goose bumps make another appearance. Another of the benchmark tracks on Two Lanes.

Annie I Owe You a Dance - 10/10: Well right in the wake of the emotionalism of Book of John you're thrust right into this bittersweet, tender, thankful and forgiveness laden masterpiece. I think that country music in particular is overrun with "missed love opportunities from younger days" songs and there are parts of this song that really flirt with that in my mind. But the genuine emotion and the overreaching theme of forgiveness and closure mixed with gorgeous music will drive anyone with a heart to their emotional knees with lyrics like "it shouldn't be a surprise the forgiveness in your eyes gave me a second chance; Annie thanks for.....the dance". We are at our best when we forgive and love overtakes everything else and this song personifies that.

Mexicoma - 10/10: Now this is a fun song. So many fun songs fall flat with pointlessness and lazy arrangement but not in this case-and lyrics like "you pulled the plug on what I thought was love, but I've got just enough juice to forget about you and squeeze this lime" always makes me smile. The music is so unique I don't think I could describe except to say I think there's tubas and accordions back in the mix which is totally awesome. You'll have the windows rolled down and cranking up this song in a couple months.

Number 37405 - 10/10: Mr. Tom Douglas? I'd like to say thank you so very much for writing songs-you're an incredible talent and I think one of the finest songwriters of our time. Tim? Thank you for coming back to him for some of your most emotionally impactful, genuine and heartfelt work (My Little Girl, Why We Said Goodbye, Love You Goodbye). This song is amazing; yes it's about a man imprisoned but that's not the point of the song. The point of the song is mistakes we make, the responsibility we take and the opportunity we are given for redemption. Musically this song is amazing-there are several distinct interludes and the ending which are punctuated with nearly angelic harmony vocals. This song has to be heard to be appreciated but just take my word for it-you will feel this song. Not only a benchmark song on Two Lanes but I'd place it in the Top 20 of all the songs Tim has recorded.

It's Your World - 10/10: Sexy song-damn sexy. First, this song rocks but second of all, any man whose fallen for a woman that he thinks is fantastic will associate with this song. Now, depending on the woman this can be good or bad (I was married to a woman for 11 years with a goddess complex-bad) but the fact remains there's something hot about a man admitting he's playing second fiddle to an amazing woman. And the guitar work blisters giving the album another song that can be cranked up and just cut loose too.

Tinted Windows - 10/10: I have somewhat of a conflicted relationship with this song-and for reasons I think are the same reasons this is a bonus track and not a part of the standard release. First, the "tinted windows" is used as an analogy in the second part of the song (which is the part I like the best) but its use in the first part of the song seems contrived to make the use in the second part work. Plus lyrically, vocally and musically the second part of the song is far superior to the first-actually the first 2 minutes of this song are like a 5/10 but the last 2 minutes are so far above 10/10 that I have to give the song an overall high rating. When the song changes keys at 2:24 and (more) unbelievable harmony vocals kick in with "we sold that car back in 97; should've got 15 but we only got 11...we grew up and we grew apart, the years rolled by and now.....(won't spoil the song with more lyrics)" the song becomes a truly excellent song. Not quite consistent to be on the standard release, better than most bonus tracks.

Highway Don't Care - 10/10: Incredible song. I don't give one damn what anyone says-and trust me it will ALL be because Taylor Swift is on the song-this song is simply fantastic lyrically, vocally, musically (and anyone that says one sideways word about Keith Urban, well...hey if you want to knock one of the finest guitarists of his generation feel free but you can't back it up). The verses are sharp, descriptive and work well together, the chorus is one of the finest sing along anthems I've heard in a long time and Keith Urban simply nails every single guitar part. Funny thing? Taylor sings the one verse.....but she's there more as a harmony vocalist-this isn't a duet in the traditional sense (like the ones Tim does with Faith) and I think that's what makes the song work so well. And on top of all this, the song is actually really sweet and loving as the singer expresses his love and caring. If Big Machine doesn't release this as a single they're insane-mega hit in the waiting.

Let Me Love It Out of You - 8/10: Tim does one of these nearly every album (Watch the Wind Blow By, Just Be Your Tear, Suspicions)-bluesy and funky generally sexy songs. Some work, some less so. This one is middle of the road and it's actually a really well written song lyrically and well executed, I just don't generally like these types of songs. It actually works as a really nice as almost a "nightcap"- a relaxing wind down to the deluxe edition after 14 tracks of invigorating freshness.

Tim has always been the master of balancing lighter fare and introspection, changing seamlessly from life of the party to brooding philosopher-a quality in his albums that in large part will have him counted among the country greats when it's all said and done and it's a quality that has maybe never been expressed better on an album of his better than it is on Two Lanes of Freedom. Many, including myself, had doubts about Tim changing labels to (of all places) Scott Borchetta led Big Machine and essentially blowing up his revered road band The Dancehall Doctors-but if doing that is what it took to get an album that sounds like this then so be it. With a fresh, reinvigorated and free spirited sound, I believe Two Lanes will be nearly universally well received by fans and critics alike and years down the road be pointed to as the album that made Tim McGraw not simply relevant again, but put him back at the forefront of country music.
Comment Comments (32) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 24, 2013 4:09 PM PST

Night Train
Night Train
Price: $9.49

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Train" excels with a welcome country rock flavor and stellar production, October 18, 2012
This review is from: Night Train (MP3 Music)
After 4 MEDIOCRE albums Aldean finally has a complete work. That's what I hear and its obvious-I have never been a big fan of Aldean's style or material so I listened to this album not expecting much. Oh was I wrong. One listen through this album and I was blown away and after 50 listens, nothing has changed. I'm HIGHLY selective and critical of most musicians-you need to do something special to impress me and Aldean as done that with this record. I'd read critics reviews of Aldean's prior albums and they would say things like "the new gold standard of doing albums without filler" and would listen to said albums and go "really?...o-kay".

This album is musically brilliant: the hooks, the production and mixing, the unapologetic nods to classic rock and southern rock (and yes even some hip hop) are refreshing-whether people like it or not THIS is the future of country music. If country wants to be successful and not fade into obscurity in the larger music scene as had happened before that Garth guy and his contemporaries gave the genre new life, this is where it needs to head. This album is really long and there isn't really one bad track on it...and I'd rather have 15 really good to very very good tracks than 2 outstanding tracks and 10 okay tracks-but that's just me. I read one article that said they went through 5,000 songs to get to these 15 and it shows.

I simply do not get what others are hearing when they write 3 star reviews much less 2 and 1 star reviews. Maybe in the age of total **** Apple earbuds and "mastered for iTunes" compression people can't experience truly great production and musicianship? I listen to my music pretty much lossless with on LOD off a highly modified iPod through an amp and into Audio Technica studio headphones or Ultimate Ear Triple Fi's and the guitars coming off one channel and steel off the other, the soundstage and "imaging" of this album are among the best I've heard in years.

Music is often a matter of taste and I think everyone listens to music and hears different things-for me I hear one of the better country albums, one of the best albums PERIOD, in the last 10 years. I have to tip my hat to Aldean for taking a risk with this record and I hope it pays off with sales because such risks need to be rewarded. Whether that happens remains to be seen, but what I know right now is Jason Aldean as a new fan.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 31, 2012 7:22 AM PDT

Emotional Traffic
Emotional Traffic
Price: $5.00
63 used & new from $0.07

17 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars McGraw's Emotional Traffic an Eclectic and Filler Free Tour de Force, January 24, 2012
This review is from: Emotional Traffic (Audio CD)
Emotional Traffic is an eclectic album that throughout its 12 tracks, one that touches on country, R&B and rock-at times utilizing multiple genres on the same songs. Listening through Emotional Traffic is, as its title suggests, to hear a convergence of various emotions from the bitterness of Halo and the flirty love of Right Back Atcha Babe, from the oddly uplifting yet downbeat The One That Got Away to the outright inspirational Touchdown Jesus. Along the way you stand in an intersection of musical styles and genres that produce 12 undeniably unique sounding and feeling songs. As a listening experience, Emotional Traffic will keep you on your toes and I can almost guarantee that whatever you hear or read about this album good or bad (and there is going to be plenty of both), that the songs sounding the same will not be one of them.

With that said, let me be perfectly clear: this is not an album for people who are solely fans of Tim's earlier work or more "traditional" country (or traditional contemporary country...if there even is such a thing). Because of its eclectic and near constant genre bending approach, Emotional Traffic is going to be an album that appeals a little to a lot of people and a lot to a few people. In short, the more variety of music you've got on your CD shelf or iPod, the more likely you will be to enjoy more, if not all, of this album. And whereas its predecessor Southern Voice had a clear and concise theme running through it, the only real theme on Emotional Traffic is the lack of one and while to some that might suggest an album that has been just thrown together, nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, it's because of this diversity along with the fact that throughout the 12 songs Tim turns in greatest vocal performances of his career, that Emotional Traffic is the outstanding album that it is.

Halo: 5/5

I'd give this song 10/5 if I could-it's that incredible. About 8 seconds into Halo you realize this isn't any ordinary track when Tim's soaring harmony vocals drop out of nowhere into the music leading right into the heart wrenching lyric "let's just cut it down the middle, let it bleed out-I'll clean up the mess, baby you stand there and shout; cry, cry-baby I can't hold us together". From there Halo quickly becomes one the most lyrically rich and well produced songs the artist has recorded over his expansive career. Halo tells a simple story: the demise of romantic relationship. But Halo is special because it's a totally raw and unbridled expression of that-a unique combination of anger and sadness that Tim somehow never allows to come across as cheap or snide. The man in this song clearly feels like the wronged one and that, while he's under attack, the woman is taking some kind of self-righteous high ground. It's a deep (and daring for such a mainstream artist) material and Tim's delivery feels so genuine-you almost feel him cowering emotionally when he sings "paint me in a corner, cover me with rage-I'll take it like a circus lion, silent in my cage" just as you hear his voice drip with bitterness 10 seconds later as the song leaps into the chorus "baby I'll let go when you say so, try to let your heart fly free; I crawl out of my cradle, down into my black hole....and you just lay low under your halo". All of this is combined with just unbelievable music; steel pedal guitar soars off to the left and slightly "up" in the mix, while near hard rock guitar plays out of the right channel. Multi-layered vocals and some wicked drumming provide a dark wall of sound that makes the emotions in Tim's vocals leap out of your speakers. I can't think of a song in recent memory that as better expressed the complex mix of emotions that comes with the end of a romantic relationship: anger, bitterness, sadness, longing, dismissiveness-it's hard to pull off in any cohesive manner, but Halo does. Emotional Traffic is worth the price of admission for this song alone.

The One That Got Away: 5/5

I've owned songwriter David Pahanish's version for years and it's always been a favorite song of mine; when I first saw it on the track listing for the album I was thrilled (and one of the few people that didn't automatically think "Katy Perry"). As a sidebar: I'm so sick of any discussion of such a brilliant song as this getting sidetracked by a simple thing as similar song titles and so that its perfectly clear this song was not only written nearly a decade ago, it was recorded by Tim before Perry's song was even written. This song is a story song very much in the vein of those on Southern Voice that speaks to a girl that gets out of her hometown where seemingly no one believes in her and makes it big as a singer. As usual, Tim takes what could be a fairly narrow topic/story and sings it so that you can associate with it yourself; I grew up in a town of 1,000 people and was surrounded by naysayers my entire young life but managed pull myself up, earn full scholarships and become very successful personally and professionally so I feel lyrics like "you kept your place in the gutter for years but kept your eyes on the road; you always felt you were meant for more, well baby now you know". Musically, this is probably the richest song atmospherically on the album; while Halo is right there, it's so raw you can't really fall into the song-while with this one you just relax into it and feel the story. Much will be made of the voice effects (and no, you can't tell what Tim is saying out of the right channel-I believe whatever it is has been recorded backwards), but I think they add to the songs "dark" atmosphere. A song about coming from little and becoming something better than others think you can be.

I Will Not Fall Down: 5/5

This song was co-written by Tim, Martina McBride and the Warren Brothers and, in may regards, this is the most "generic" song on the album...the music doesn't really deliver anything special and the whole feel of the track is very "anthemic" but it connects with me personally so that and what some will probably point to as repetitiveness in the lyrics is perfectly fine. At its core, this song is a heartfelt expression of standing tall and proud while leaning on what matters most in this fast paced "onto to the next great (and younger) thing" world that is passing you by and trying to push you aside. The chorus soars on this emotion with Tim singing "I will not fall down, I will not fall down, I will not fall down without getting up....that's when I need your love". This is definitely a song for the mature listener; you have to be a certain age and have experienced life enough to find a kinship with lyrics like "no one wants to think about getting older, they try to push you out before it's over; the same world that lifts you up can put you in your place. What they call progress will never wait for me and I should probably just go out quietly, but I've still got something left to say". A simple, yet poignant quick hitter that strikes at the heart of growing older and staying strong.

Only Human: 5/5

Much will be made of this song (both positive and negative) because of the collaboration with Ne-Yo, but I just hope that doesn't take away from what a special song this is. First of all, yes the duet works; I don't know how...but somehow there is the perfect fusion of country and R&B and Tim and Ne-Yo's voices are very much suited to each other. Lyrically, this song has some of the best lyrics on the entire album and anyone that has lived through trials, missed chances and unmet expectations can relate when Tim comes right out of the gate singing "the kiss that never happened, the call that never came; the hurt you mask by laughing, the one that got away. It's all in a day of emotional traffic, stranded broken and tragic; finding out you're only human is hard". I love the phrase "emotional traffic"-it's so dead on what each and every one of experiences everyday as emotional beings and the toll it has on us. Another gut wrenching song about the obstacles and trials we all endure with a redeeming message of hope for better things to come.

Right Back Atcha Babe: 5/5

I'm going to be totally honest....I didn't like this song on first blush. But it's amazing what a half a dozen good
listens does because now I absolutely love it. Tim always does a song like this now and again and they're usually not my favorite-but this one is different because it's so, well...sweet and honest. To my fellow men? Take a lesson from this song-if you want to see your wife look at you lovingly at you after 5 or 10 years, remembering and expressing to her little things that happened between the two of you in the past you loved is the way to do it. This song really connected with me when I listened to it with my wife in mind-then it made me smile and tear up at the same time and its awesome to hear what is usually a mean spirited saying turned on its ear when Tim sings "well if what comes around goes've got it made-right back atcha babe". Musically the song is fun and flirtatious and is a perfect match for the lyrics and delivery and the extended solo at the end a welcome non-formulaic addition. A fun, lovingly delivered song about what it feels like to be loved and love someone back just as much even after many years.

Die By My Own Hand: 5/5

This is a song originally recorded by Halfway to Hazard, a duo that had their debut album produced by Byron Gallimore and Tim as well as supported the last Tim/Faith tour. Lyrically it's always been one of my favorite songs because I have an affinity for songs that speak to the concept of being your own worst enemy as well as songs that express how others can make us better than are-both topics covered by this song. I like aspects of both versions; H2H's version is more detailed instrumentally which I like but Tim's version is more impactful atmospherically-the lush arrangements allow you just relax into the song plus Tim's delivery has more kick. An excellent album closer which laments the self destructiveness we are all capable of while taking responsibility for it at the same time.

Better Than I Used to Be: 5/5

Easily the most straight ahead country track on the album (and one of the most straight ahead country singles of his career), Better Than I Used to Be is plain and simple the best vocal performance of Tim McGraw's career. The simple yet present instrumentation allows Tim's voice to take front and center stage and he uses every bit of his natural ability to convey emotion on every word-it's a reminder of his earlier work; I hear A LOT of the Everywhere album in this track and what made that album great. There is nothing particularly outstanding about this song musically or topically-it's pretty standard, though incredibly well written and executed, country fare that allows the message to be the central focus. As complimentary as I am of Tim's adventurous spirit musically and no matter how much I enjoy waiting for every album not knowing what he's going to do next, I really feel it would be incredible if he did a whole album along the lines of this song...kind of an Everywhere 2.0. In any event, this song is a powerful shot of emotion that is grand slam in Tim's hands.

Touchdown Jesus: 5/5

This song takes it place alongside Better Than I Used to Be as firmly in the country category with strong country instrumentation and subject matter. While I like the message of inspiration and the two stories the song tells, somehow I keep struggling with the use of a football analogy in conjunction with Jesus....something about it doesn't quite fit. With that said, there's no denying the intent of the song and the impact it has. One of the simplest and shortest songs on the album, this one probably packs the most punch in terms of the subject matter.

Felt Good On My Lips: 5/5

Yes I gave it 5 out of 5-sorry folks, this is a great song; the lyrics are clever and aside from a somewhat out of place "I want to go crazy, you can go crazy too" it's a rocking, flirty and fun song. No it's not going to be played at your local line dance, but apparently it resonated somewhere because despite the near constant body blows this song has received, it was a number 1 hit on country radio.

Hey Now: 5/5

Many have noted the lightness and levity that seems to run through most of Emotional Traffic (especially in stark contrast to its predecessor) and Hey Now is a key component of that. This is just simply a fun and flirty song and I laughed when I first heard it because I thought "it's the first part of Right Back Atcha Babe, at the beginning when they first meet...and Right Back Atcha is 10 years later". The music is quick and almost intoxicatingly danceable and no matter what I do, at work, at home I find my body moving to the rhythm. The theme is basic-guy about to leave bar, sees pretty girl, stays to see where it might lead-I can see Kenny Chesney doing this song as much as Tim with the way Kenny does fun, good times songs, but Tim does a great job on one of the more just pure fun songs he's done in some time.

The One: 5/5

I jokingly refer to this song as "Something Like That 10 years later" and it's very true including even several references to a fair. Musically, the song starts out with an awesome very retro sounding guitar hook and he lyrics and feel of the song has the same flirty feel of Right Back Atcha Babe. The song is a bit repetitive at the end with the overuse of "The One" but it does so to really drive home the point of the one home for both parties in the song. One the key tracks in giving the album its lighthearted undertones.

One Part, Two Part: 5/5

A very funky track that has been billed as a duet with Faith Hill but really is just more of Faith singing some harmony vocals that are pushed higher up in the mix than usual. Using what might on the surface an overly simple play on words, the song develops into a full on statement of an imbalance between the positive and negative/good and bad in a relationship. Tim and Faith's voices mesh together flawlessly as they so often do and by the end of the song you find yourself tapping your foot and moving to the exceptional guitar work and funky beat.

When it's all said and done, Emotional Traffic is a showcase-a showcase of what an incredibly diverse artist Tim McGraw is. Very few, if any, artists in country music (or any genre for that matter) can tackle and successfully execute such a broad spectrum of musical styles and certainly not on the same album. In fact, it actually occurred to me partway through my second listen of the album that he may in fact have had that as his goal: to show potential new labels what he could do-or maybe knowing this was his swan song with Curb he simply felt liberated enough to do what he wanted.

Whatever the motivation, Emotional Traffic is an undeniable tour de force-an example of the good things that can happen when an immensely talented artist stretches his wings, tries new things and steps outside the box that some would like to keep him in. Is it going to win over any of the many country traditionalists that have long shunned McGraw for being a crossover wannabe? No. Will it retain and possibly gain fans with more multi-faceted musical tastes? Yes. As Tim eluded to on Things Change, one of the benchmark tracks from Set This Circus Down (ironically his first album with Curb under the deal signed of which Emotional Traffic is the last), "some say it's too country, some say it's too rock n' roll, but it's just good music if you can feel it in your soul" sometimes you have to push outside of the boundaries put up by a certain type of music and take some chances to have music feel alive, fresh and impactful. I've always asserted that Tim McGraw is at his best when he takes chances-when he pushes the boundaries of not so much what he can do, but what the musical genre he is a part of says he can or rather should do. Emotional Traffic pushes the boundaries a lot and the album, McGraw as an artist, the music industry in general and, perhaps most importantly of all, the listener is better for it.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 10, 2012 11:30 PM PDT

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