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Left Lane: Tim McGraw

Louisiana native takes country detour on new disc

March 8, 2012
By RICH GIBSON , Times Leader

Tim McGraw labels his latest studio release: "My best album ever."

I'll take him at face value considering my music library does not include an extensive collection of previously recorded McGraw material.

More than likely, McGraw was just out there creating positive buzz for his late January release "Emotional Traffic," a relatively strong 12-song offering from the Louisiana native.

First things first: For the love of Waylon, it's difficult comprehending McGraw's new disc debuting at #1 on Billboard's Country Music chart.

Truth be told, no better than two of Traffic's dozen tracks bear resemblance to contemporary country. McGraw's latest is overwhelmingly dominated by pop/rock overtures. There's far more Tom Petty here than Tom T. Hall.

If McGraw's new disc is country, so is Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon." Comprende?

That said, McGraw's choice of material, backing players and studio editing make for a winning formula.

He reached out to over a dozen writers who contribute mostly 'A' list numbers from the record's sterling opening track, "Halo," to popular single "Felt Good On My Lips," to the standout closer, "Die By My Own Hands."

McGraw is credited as a co-writer with Martina McBride on "I Will Not Fall Down," and its U2 anthem-like chorus.

On the upbeat, "The One," McGraw invades Katy Perry territory, then transitions into "Better Than I Used To Be," far and away the record's only legit country track highlighted by a pedal steel sighting.

"Emotional Traffic" is McGraw's 13th and likely final recording on Nashville's Curb label.

Those unfamiliar with the scenario should note Curb Records filed a breach-of-contract suit against McGraw, alleging he recorded tracks for the album earlier than it's scheduled delivery to the label.

McGraw then filed a counter suit seeking advance payment, unspecified damages and a jury trial. As of this writing, that trial is scheduled to begin in July.

Last November, a judge granted McGraw permission to record music for another label, ending a relationship with Curb which began in 1990. McGraw has since announced plans to record another studio disc with a possible release date set before year's end.

Major League Baseball fans will note McGraw is the son of former National League relief pitcher Tug McGraw, a former star with the Phillies who died in 2004.

Currently, Tim McGraw and wife, Faith Hill, are heading down under for a two-week tour of Australia.

Beginning June 2, McGraw reunites with Kenny Chesney for a summer stadium tour which includes Pittsburgh's Heinz Field (Jun. 30); Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium (July 1); and Browns Stadium in Cleveland (July 29). The tour also plays NFL venues in East Rutherford (N.J.); Landover (Md.) and Foxboro (Mass.).

ON Pittsburgh's WYEP-FM website's concert calendar there is a May 14 club date listed for guitarist Ronnie Montrose, one of the 70's most creative artists.

Montrose, unfortunately, passed away last Saturday at age of 64, reportedly from prostate cancer.

A Denver native, Montrose's self-titled 1973 release on Warner Brothers' Records, was one of that decade's finest rock records featuring the dynamite combo of Montrose on lead guitar and Sammy Hagar on lead vocals.

The band recorded two more albums before Montrose left to pursue a solo career which was only modestly successful.

Montrose, however, was an in-demand session player, contributing in his early years to Van Morrison's 1971 gem, "Tupulo Honey," and later in 1975 to Gary Wright's "Dream Weaver."

On his most recent tour in 2009, Montrose disclosed he was involved in a then-successful battle with prostate cancer. However, the cancer returned leading to his death last weekend.

Beforehand, Montrose had made plans to tour extensively this spring and summer. His final studio recording came in 1999, "Roll Over And Play Live."

JAMBOREE in the Hills continues to announce artists for this summer's festival in July. Jamey Johnson is returning as is Hall of Famers Lynyrd Skynyrd, Tracy Lawrence and the Eli Young Band.

Among first time Jambo performers scheduled are Aaron Lewis and Blackberry Smoke....

Gibson may be reached at



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