CD review: Tim McGraw 'Emotional Traffic'

CD review: Tim McGraw ‘Emotional Traffic'
Published: January 27, 2012
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COUNTRY

Tim McGraw “Emotional Traffic” (Curb Records)

After two years of waiting and a long-in-coming legal drama, fans of Tim McGraw have the chance to get caught in the country music superstar's “Emotional Traffic,” his final album for Curb Records, the independent label he started his career with in the early 1990s.

Released Tuesday, “Emotional Traffic” doesn't live up to McGraw's declaration of “my best album ever” boldly stickered on the CD case. Nor does it give credence to Curb's lawsuit claim that the album didn't have enough potential singles to warrant release. To this listener's ear, the truth exists somewhere between those two extremes, and “Emotional Traffic” sounds like quintessential McGraw. In fact, current climbing single “Better Than I Used to Be” bears a bit too strong a sonic resemblance to his 2004 smash “Live Like You Were Dying.”

Despite Curb's contention the album was recorded too early and would seem dated, “Emotional Traffic” is packed with the huge arena-filling country-rockers, sentimental crossover-ready country-pop ballads and intriguing boundary-pushing experiments McGraw has long favored. In fact, thanks to Tim Tebow, the earnest religious anthem “Touchdown Jesus” has new relevance, and McGraw, an avid sports fan, digs deep to send the metaphor soaring into the end zone.

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