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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 17, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Accent

Review: Country artist delves into pop style

After ending his 20-year relationship with Curb Records in 2011, Tim McGraw has released an album,“Two Lanes of Freedom,” that features a fresher sound than in previous albums.

The slicker and more dramatic production values on “Two Lanes of Freedom” can be attributed to the talents of Byron Gallimore. As McGraw’s longtime collaborator, Gallimore opted for a more pop-oriented direction coinciding with McGraw’s switch to Big Machine Records. The rock-infused balladry of the song “Friend of a Friend” details the gossip surrounding the breakup of a troubled relationship, while the auto-tuned sections of “Southern Girl” stand out as testaments to McGraw’s willingness to experiment with different genres of music. These songs are expertly crafted with a pop-rock oriented sound as opposed to adult contemporary country. Album closer “Highway Don’t Care,” featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, exemplifies how effective creative lyrics, skillful production and on-point vocals can combine to create the perfect audio storybook, painting a picture through words.

While “Two Lanes of Freedom” signals a departure from McGraw’s more traditional country style, it maintains just enough of his inherent sense of musical direction to make for a cohesive collection.

3 stars