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Design By Humans
Published On: Tue, Nov 18th, 2014

Garth Brooks: Man Against Machine

garthGarth Brooks
Man Against Machine
(Sony Music Nashville)

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Retiring to raise his daughters in 2000, very few artists had experienced fame quite like Garth Brooks. Now, after a few well-publicized live performances of late, Brooks presents this 14-song album, Man Against Machine. Garth’s “comeback” ninth studio album runs through a pop-country tapestry, not so very innovative (after a 14-year hiatus), but solid all the same.

With the metallic hit and chant of “work,” I am reminded of Billy Joel’s “Allentown” on the opening title track. (Brooks is a huge Billy Joel fan, his “Shameless” hit was written by Joel.) The song has banal lyrics, but the organ helps the song move. “She’s Tired of Boys” is a much better tune, a big country character study, with a knock-out duet of choruses between Brooks and his wife, country star Trisha Yearwood.

“All-American Kid” is a solid, fiddle-led country story song, but “Mom” is so sappy and based on such an ill-conceived lyrical conceit, I was cringing throughout.

“Wrong About You” is another fun, smart, lyrical poppy number, with some good flat picking, while “Rodeo and Juliet” is pure pedal steel fun. “Cowboys Forever” is rather predictable, but again Garth’s musicians and his strong voice deliver and“People Loving People” is the lead-off single, with a flangy, echo guitar, a la The Edge and a big singable chorus. Again, the lyrics are very icky, but I’ve heard worse in this vein.

“You Wreck Me” is a subtle man-wanting-woman plea, a pure pop-country ballad and the a gospely “Tacoma” ends the set, which shows off Garth’s pipes, which are pretty much as strong as ever.

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Garth Brooks: Man Against Machine