Over the years, Toby Keith has offset his macho country swagger with splashes of tongue-in-cheek fun. The Oklahoman's new album, "Bullets In The Gun," focuses more than ever on his lighter side, despite its menacing-sounding title.
If the album has a theme, it's about aggressively masculine guys receiving their comeuppance, from women or from life itself. Keith sets these songs to playful, loping rhythms accented with slide guitars and quirky musical twists.
The songs "Somewhere Else" and "Ain't Breakin' Nothin"' delight in clever word play, while the trucking romp "Drive It On Home" resembles a high-speed Chuck Berry travelogue or a modern version of the highway anthem "Six Days On The Road."
Keith offers a few departures, such as the title song, a narrative about an on-the-run outlaw couple reminiscent of Robert Earl Keen's great "The Road Goes On Forever." But for the most part, the veteran country star revels in lyrics ripe with redneck humor, as in the song "Trailerhood," which makes a mobile-home park sound like a working-class resort.
A "Deluxe Edition" includes four live covers of classics by Waylon Jennings, Gordon Lightfoot, Roger Miller and Johnny Paycheck.
Check this track out: "Think About You All Of The Time" epitomizes Keith's mischievous point of view. Sung as if in a boastful mood, and set to a good-humored bar-band boogie, the tune finds a tough guy telling his former lover he doesn't miss her much - but admits he can't get her off his mind, either.
Michael McCall, For The Associated Press
'Bullets In The Gun'