It’s 2019. Garth Brooks is still selling out arenas, Dolly Parton and Reba are helping host the CMA’s with Carrie Underwood, Brooks and Dunn reunited, and we were blessed with new music from George Strait and Trisha Yearwood. And now Tracy Lawrence. What decade are we living in? Not that we’re complaining.
Tracy Lawrence released his latest album Made in America last Friday and this 12-song project is quite perfect. It’s authentic Lawrence (his voice is one of the most recognizable in the business), the songs sound familiar and new all at the same time. Lawrence wrote 8 of the 12 songs and declares this his most personal album yet.
The title track of the album almost didn’t make the cut. It was one of the last songs added. Lawrence already had a name for the title all set to go, but when he heard “Made in America” he knew that was the song that could lead an album. He describes it as a true patriotic song, honoring the hard-working men and women of our country — nothing political, just a honest song about having some American pride.
From there the album takes off, giving us listeners everything we could ask from Lawrence. There’s a rockin’ roll, bad boy, troublemaker song in “Stay Back One Hundred Feet;” a homage to his Arkansas roots, with “Just the South Comin’ Out” and “Chicken Wire” a deceptive song title, where Lawrence looks back on the grind that it takes to become a musician and being a little nostalgic for “one more slug-it-out roadhouse gig.”
We get contrasting break up songs. There’s the fun upbeat “Forgive Yourself” a song that seemingly puts the blame on his partner and her ever assuming drama. Conversely, “First Step to Leaving” is a more somber, melancholy break up song, with no one to blame, “it ain’t you she’s running from/gotta let her go.”
Then we are treated with the beautifully written song, written by Chris Stapleton no less (can you imagine the collaboration?!), called “Givin’ Momma Reasons to Pray.” It runs through numerous life decisions made by a son, that aren’t easy or conventional, like running away to chase a music career. The song doesn’t end with a happy ending and perhaps that’s what makes it so great, so authentically country.
The best song on the album, if you’re asking me, is “When the Cowboys Gone.” Lawrence describes this as a metaphor on where our country is and what happens when we lose our sense of pride, honesty, and integrity. With lyrics like “what we need is more walk than talk in the windshield not the rear view” and “when we can’t see the cover through the dust on our Bible what’s next?” The song is subtle, yet powerful, and unapologetically real.
There is so much to love about this album, and it would be easy to say it’s just our desire for bringing back country music of the 90’s, but these songs are good, and they can hold their own in today’s country music climate. Country music is best when Tracy Lawrence is making his kind of music.