Two Lanes of Freedom – Reviewed

11th February 2013

Two LanesTim McGraw’s newest release represents the product a wise journey into several areas of crossover Country which Tim has taken throughout the years. In this time he’s done everything from pure acoustic redneck on the likes of his earlier stuff to a more soulful and jazzy sound which he toyed with on ‘Emotional Traffic’, his 2012 offering. What we get with Two Lanes of Freedom is the perfect balance of all of this with Tim’s styles and skills represented in very fair measure throughout the 13 (or if you’re a REAL Tim fan and bought the Accelerated edition, like me, then 15) tracks included on the album.

The exciting title track ‘Two Lanes of Freedom’ sets the tone for the rest of the album. With its boldness, confidence and… well, freedom, it makes it clear that Tim has let himself take the wheel for this album and do things exactly how he wants to.

We’d got a hint from the three tracks released prior the album: ‘Truck Yeah’, ‘Nashville Without You’ and ‘One of Those Nights’ that this was going to be an album of many colours. The thrashing guitar and rock-infused sound of ‘Truck Yeah’ is contrasted masterfully with the likes of ‘Book of John’ and, my personal favourite on the album; ‘Nashville Without You’. Both of these have the raw country feel, with McGraw edge, that fans have enjoyed for so long. The latter track is particularly poignant for fans of Country as it pays tribute to all those artists who helped to define the genre over the years (namedropping tracks by Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline in the first minute alone.) Lyrically, it’s got a very ‘Southern Voice’ feel to it, for those of you who have kept up with his previous stuff.

But even away from these flagship tracks, we hear a great diversity on the album. Tim’s recollection of being in a ‘Mexicoma’ is great fun (complete with harmonicas and tubas!) whilst his grouping with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban on the ballad ‘Highway Don’t Care’ is one of those tracks which you just know is going to be huge when it hits the charts. It’s interesting to note that the seamless combination of voices in the latter of those tracks was achieved in spite of the artists never physically being in a studio together.

There’s little in the way of ‘filler’ on this release by McGraw. Most of the tracks have their own special place on the album, and a unique identity to match. Some will undoubtedly receive fewer plays than others, but this is no judgment on their quality. All things considered ‘Two Lanes of Freedom’ is an extremely welcome release by the established Country star which captures elements of all of the many different sounds McGraw has had over the years, whilst giving them a welcomingly fresh and up-to-date feel.