In the past 20 years, Tim McGraw has produced albums such as “A Place in the Sun,” “Live Like You Were Dying” and “Southern Voice”for Curb Records. Because of a lawsuit in November 2011, McGraw left Curb Records and began working on a new album entitled “Two Lanes of Freedom.”
Released on Feb. 5, 2013, it is the first album produced by McGraw for Big Machine Records, which works with artists such as Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, Edens Edge and Eli Young Band. McGraw’s album title, “Two Lanes of Freedom,” is said to be symbolic of the musical freedom he received in leaving Curb Records.
McGraw’s album is a pleasant mix of hip-hop, bluegrass and contemporary country that remains consistent with albums he has produced in the past. A popular single, “Truck Yeah,” is an example of contemporary country with the typical country twang but also a strong rock presence. Released July 3, 2012, the single peaked at no. 57 on the US Billboard Hot 100. “Truck Yeah” is all about being a raw man, owning a big truck and driving it around with a rebel yell. It makes for a catchy, up-beat song.
The album’s biggest hit, “One of Those Nights,” was released Nov. 12, 2012. The single has only made it to no. 52 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Although the song is good, it isn’t excellent. McGraw stuck to his usual style, which is enjoyable for most country listeners but not chart-topping material.
“Highway Don’t Care,” featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, is a sure hit. Listeners might enjoy the throwback sound by T-Swift as she returns to singing country in this love ballad. Although almost any song with Swift’s name stamped on it is an instant hit, “Highway Don’t Care” is a lovely mix of voice and instrumentals that deserves some radio time.
The release of this album will bring mostly positive press for McGraw, but it will not advance him as a country artist. This was the perfect time for McGraw to take a risk and set himself apart after his recent split with Curb Records, but he did not take advantage of that opportunity. Instead, he chose to stick with the style he has been using his whole career. For Tim McGraw fans, “Two Lanes of Freedom” will be an enjoyable album, but other listeners might not venture far past his popular singles.