the power of patriotism. In these troubled times, it’s a
comfort to know the American dream is alive and well. Just
ask Rodney Atkins. Recently settling in, and nicely
thank-you, at the pole position on the Billboard country
music charts with “It’s America”, the guy who traded a
cowboy hat for a baseball cap is quickly increasing the fan
base. And he’s doing it with his hand-on-chest nod to apple
pie values of friends, family, life and love.
Having scored in
2003 with his Top 5 single Honesty (Write Me A List), 2006
saw Atkins leapfrog the charts with his fan friendly and
radio saturated follow-up. “If You’re Going Through Hell”
did plenty to establish this Tennessean with the
psychology degree. That breakthrough album sold an
impressive 1.4 million, with the title cut enjoying the
label as the most played country song on radio for the year.
If that wasn’t enough, “Watching You” followed
the established path, earning most played country tune at
radio for 2007. 2007 also saw Atkins claim the CMA’s
prestigious “New Artist Of The Year”.
Now, It’s America.
With this new album, Atkins delivers 11 tracks of
turbo-charged country. It’s an album pumped with rocky and
up-tempo cuts. There’s not a downer on the set. The tracks
are an even blend of potential singles and tunes that offer
reflection and appreciation.
The title cut nails
it. When Atkins sings:
a high school prom, it's a Springsteen song, it's a ride in
It's a man on the moon and fireflies in June and kids sellin'
It's cities and farms, it's open arms, one nation under God
It's America,” you immediately relate to the shared
understandings of a country unified.
But while the title
tune is claiming kudos, a keen listen to the remaining
tracks delivers with similar optimism and value. “Got It
Good” and “The Best Things,” with its shopping list of the
joys and toys for big boys, along with the honest truth of
“puttin in a hard days work, comin' home and puttin' on a
clean T-shirt,” all add to the enjoyment of “Simple Things”.
There’s some real
fun here. When Atkins sings of “Chasin’ Girls, with its
lyrical reveal of dating, marriage and kids (girls, what
else?), and he sings of having “Friends With Tractors”,
well, there’s a male connection easily identified by both
genders. An understood laugh, but only to men, comes with
the tale of giving up grog and girls, proving to be the
hardest “15 Minutes” of any red-blooded life.
connections, the closing minutes of the album, the last
three tracks, shows a move towards the thoughtful and
positive side of country music. As I said above, there’s not
a downer on this album, so when Atkins confronts death and
left legacies, he does it without draining emotion and
The Cradle” starts the trilogy. With it’s fiddle-ache
opening, the song powers along with a buoyant message of
optimism – “I want to live with no excuses, love with no
regrets, take the bad with the good and know I did my best.”
The song offers a thoughtful fit to “”when It’s My Time”.
Telling of a rushed man on his way to somewhere, blocked by
a funeral procession of tail-to-tail cars, the delay brings
meaning to a hurried life.
it's my time to go, the end of my road I hope it looks like
200 cars stretched out as far as the hearts I touched while
And I hope I leave half as much love behind when it's my
The album ends,
perfectly, with “The River Just Knows”. The tune, moody and
sober, offers metaphorical comparisons in that in stillness,
reflection and acceptance, the needed answers often come.
know the river don’t talk, the river don’t care
Where you’ve been, what you’ve done
Don’t know why it is your standin’ there
It just flows on by whisperin’ to your soul
It’s gonna be alright, the river just knows.”
It’s America is out
now on Sony Nashville Records.
Click the pic to order from Amazon.com.