Full Title - Tim McGraw & The Dancehall Doctors. The country star's 2002 album combines a 70's vibe with rock & pop as well as country. Featuring the first single 'Red Ragtop'. Curb Records.
Just as his wife, Faith Hill, gets slicker and more hermetically sealed on each album, Tim McGraw reaches back on this record to a time-honored, if now rare, country music tradition--recording with his road band. Like Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard before him, McGraw craved the artistic freedom and rawer sound he enjoyed with his road boys, and he was correct in thinking the Dancehall Doctors would leave their own honest stamp on the music, as well as a '70s rock & roll feel. Retreating to a studio in upstate New York, they recorded 15 keepers. Only one, a cover of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer," lands with a thud, as McGraw tries to duplicate John's vocal nuances and never takes control of the song. But elsewhere, he and the band are surprisingly emotional, soulful, and vulnerable. Together, they turn "Red Ragtop," a song about teen lovers who abort their child, into a universal lyric about choices and regrets, and fashion the two songs about revisiting the people and places that shape who you are ("Sing Me Home," "Home") into something profound. The album sags in spots, and McGraw and his coproducers misstep in adding faux R&B vocal washes here and there. But this is a good, solid effort to make music and not just the radio charts. --Alanna Nash
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