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Toby Keith - SHOCK'N Y'ALL
Album Review by: Cheryl Harvey Hill

After everything Toby Keith has said to the media lately, I thought he would be hard pressed to shock anyone, but after listening to his new album, I could be wrong. Some of the controversy might come from what he refers to as "the bus songs." Keith says these are songs he has written on the road "to entertain the boys on the bus" but after playing them for live audiences and getting such an "awesome response," they added them to the show and then decided to include them on the album. With titles like "The Taliban Song" and "Weed With Willie," some folks might find them shocking, but I found them to be amusing and enlightening. Besides, it isn't every day that you get to hear something that is normally reserved for the "boys on the bus."

This album includes songs about patriotism, religion, illegal substances, women referred to as "babelicious" and a whole lot more - pretty much enough here to offend almost any body - if they are looking to be offended. But the only song on this album that he didn't have a hand in writing may prove to be the most controversial song of all. Written by Chuck Cannon and Phil Madeira, "If I Was Jesus," is a provocative view of the biblical story as it might be recounted by a modern day Jesus. I didn't find it offensive, but I'm sure many people will. For myself, I think anything that makes one ponder what Jesus might be thinking is a good thing.

Personally, I think Keith is just having fun with all his critics - especially the ones who never took him seriously as an award winning contender in Nashville. Regardless of the song, the album title, or what he says, it will forever translate to "how do you like me now?" I, for one, respect the fact that he has stayed true to himself and, for Keith, staying true to himself almost guarantees controversy. He's
fearless, albeit somewhat opinionated, but nonetheless, fearless. And no one can dispute that he has proven himself to be a multi-talented and imposing entertainer.

Being an Army veteran, who is married to a career soldier, "American Soldier" tapped into my emotional heart, and hopefully it will touch a lot of other hearts too. I don't deny that I appreciate the songs that put a human face on the soldiers and this song certainly does. I am particularly grateful for the line that reminds the listener that "freedom don't come free." Regardless of what you personally think of Keith, I don't think anyone, any where, questions his patriotic passion for this country and the soldiers who defend it. This song, co-written by him, reflects that allegiance.

Vocally and instrumentally, my favorite song on the album is the boisterous, "I Love This Bar" and I think this song may divulge the most about Toby Keith. He sings, "It's my kind of place. Just walkin' through the front door puts a big smile on my face," and I believe him. This song puts a smile on my face too and I'm not one to even go near a bar. His voice on this song is super; relaxed and deep, reminiscent of his vocal range on "Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine On You."

This is an enhanced CD and it has the full-length "I Love This Bar" video, a special "making of the video" segment, as well as an insiders look at the photo shoot and other bonus footage. If anyone can watch Toby posing with his darling little bulldog and not have it affect their opinion about him in a favorable way ... they are heartless.

All in all, the only real shock might be for the non-believers when this album goes platinum.

SHOCK'N Y'ALL track list: Buy It!

1 I Love This Bar 
2 Whiskey Girl 
3 American Soldier 
4 If I Was Jesus 
5 Time For Me To Ride 
6 Sweet 

7 Don't Leave, I Think I Love You 
8 Nights I Can't Remember, Friends I'll Never Forget 
9 Baddest Boots 
10 The Critic 
11 The Taliban Song 
12 Weed With Willie 

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