By Aaron Wagner
Nearly five years since his last solo album, Tim McGraw has returned with Here On Earth, to much fanfare from country music fans.
With Here On Earth, Tim has given us some of the best collection of songs from in the last decade.
Now there’s no denying that he’s had a very good last decade with hits like “Humble and Kind” and “Shotgun Rider.” But Tim held out for the best songs on this new album and there are so many potential radio hits on it.
While the album is titled Here On Earth, there’s a dreamy sound to it and after taking one quick look at the album cover art you’ll understand why.
This album is Tim giving his perspective on life in this big and crazy world that sometimes hurts us, but more often than not, reminds of us of our blessings and why we love life. That’s it. It’s a subtle nod that we’re all playing a small role for a short time period, but that while we’re here we should live a big, out-of-this-world size life with purpose.
The production is so damn good and unique, with a sound that doesn’t immediately scream “This is a Tim McGraw song.” But then again, he’s never been afraid to push the genre forward so I shouldn’t be too surprised.
The dreaminess sound that is weaved in and out of the songs on this album are the strongest on “LA”, “Chevy Spaceship”, and “Not From California.” He starts the album with “LA” in a dreamy scene where I picture him sitting up on a lookout while looking down at the city lights of the entertainment capital, while “Not From California” is sung from the opposite perspective of a love that is chasing her dreams while he picks up the pieces in the quiet countryside. He turns that same quiet country side into an out of world experience on “Chevy Spaceship” with one of my favorite lyrics “we can catch a little buzz lightyear.”
While not explicitly naming Faith Hill, there are a few songs that has Tim reaffirming his love, dedication, and respect to his wife. “Damn Sure Do” is a mid-tempo that has him falling in love with her over and over again. “Good Taste In Women” and “Hard To Stay Mad At” are strong potentials for singles as he weaves in some sly, yet realistic humor, about his relationship with his wife. They’re uptempo enough that I think they’d resonate on radio.
It can sometimes be cringeworthy when a developed artist in their 40s or 50s sings about young love, but the two songs that are about young love on this album, is something Tim executes pretty flawlessly. “Sheryl Crow” is a clever title and one of my favorites and yes, while the lyrics are about young love, they can also be interpreted as falling in love right away or reflecting back on those feelings. “Hold You Tonight” is similar but Tim talked to Apple Music that while lyrics are about a young love, for him he looks at it as a song about being with someone for the long-haul.
“War of Art” stands out as being different as he sings about being an artist, making music, and how much it means to him.
Then Tim delivers arguably his best vocal performance on “If I Was a Cowboy.” The breakup song has him wishing he could be a tough cowboy and not feel hurt from the breakup. Similarly in “7500 OBO” he sees his former love everywhere, especially in the shotgun seat of his truck, so he needs to sell it ASAP. Listen carefully as the song also has a few references to some of his more iconic songs.
“Here On Earth” is another song that would be a smash at radio as the title track is all about realizing that you’re finally living; and living life to its potential. He is living life to its potential in “Hallelujahville” in which can best be described as small town paradise with a sudden wink and nod to spiritual feelings, once again tying back to the theme of the album.
His current single is “I Called Mama” and currently sitting at #11 on the charts. Initially Tim had no plans to make this a single, but during COVID he realized how powerful of a message he had with the song. He continues to prove he’s one of a few artists who can truly execute on a song concept like this.
Tim wraps up this 16-song album with two phenomenal songs.
“Gravy” has him finally figuring things out. Similar to a movie character that made mistakes but came through it to truly flourish and accept what he has in life, this is the type of song you’d hear right before the credits. It’s not a big deal, but I wish he would’ve made this song the last one on the album, rather than #14.
The song he does conclude the album with is an emotional dedication to dogs. “Doggone” is a clever play on words to describe his dog no longer being alive and the phrase that evokes the subtle emotion of hurt, without it being over the top. If you’ve ever had a dog die, this song is going to hit you smack dab in your feels.
I think we can all agree that this album further proves how much of a legend Tim McGraw is, to still be doing this at a high and relevant level in his 50s. This album has so many potential singles and I’d expect any of them to reach the Top 10.
With perspective on a career and life-lived, Tim is using this perspective as his inspiration for the rest of his music going forward. And it’s a glorious sound.