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article imageReview: Toby Keith returns with a new album '35 mph Town'

By Adrian Peel     Oct 11, 2015 in Music
The Oklahoman's latest CD, his first in two years, ends a run of an album a year that began with 2005's "Honkytonk University" and ended in 2013 with "Drinks After Work." Has the new record been worth the wait? Digital Journal found out.
Although his place at country music's top table has come under threat in recent years from newer stars such as Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line, Toby Keith is still capable of producing solid albums with enjoyable chart-friendly singles, as Drinks After Work proved.
The first song on 35 mph Town, the 54 year old's 18th studio album, may suggest lyrical similarities with bro-country. However, "Drunk Americans" is definitely not formulaic, its rousing sing-a-long chorus ensuring it's a cut above the average, "Ooh look I've got a drink in my hand" fare.
The more uptempo "Good Gets Here" emphatically evokes memories of Brooks & Dunn in the latter part of their wildly successful recording career, while the title track is gloriously nostalgic in its look at small town America.
The steel drums are out again (sun, sea and sand have always been a recurring theme in Toby Keith's career) for "Rum Is the Reason," a song that pleasantly recalls Jimmy Buffett at his most sun-kissed and "beach-y."
After a couple of instantly forgettable numbers, the traditional-sounding "Haggard, Hank & Her" gets things back on track in stunning fashion. It even has a steel guitar - if only he would use it more often! Almost as good is "Sailboat for Sale," featuring the aforementioned Jimmy Buffett.
"Every Time I Drink I Fall In Love" also has a steel guitar, though this time it is deeper in the mix and harder to hear. The last of the album's 10 tracks is "Beautiful Stranger," not to be confused with the annoying Madonna song of the same name. Keith's "Beautiful Stranger" is in fact a reflective piece of some brilliance that closes out this 10-track album in style.
Toby Keith has been one of country music's most consistent hit-makers since the turn of the century and can always be relied upon to deliver the goods, effortlessly mixing the fast with the slow, the rough with the smooth and the tongue-in-cheek with the melancholy.
His prolific output even led to him being named "Artist of the Decade" by the American Country Awards for the years 2000 to 2010, ahead of such luminaries as Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw and George Strait. This album is not his best, but it's by no means his worst either.
35 mph Town is out now.
For more information on Toby Keith, visit his official website.
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