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Album Review

Toby Keith, 'Bullets in the Gun'

October 4, 2010

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With the pickup line “Get outta your clothes or get out of my car,’’ there’s little wonder why Toby Keith is relaying tales of love gone wrong on six of the 10 tunes on “Bullets in the Gun.’’ Yet, on the one song where the cowboy does get the girl, both perish in a hail of bullets. There’s a moral here somewhere. Keith’s smooth, booming voice binds this sampler containing humor and heartbreak, honky-tonk and ballads. As is the case with most Nashville star vehicles, Keith’s 15th studio album glimmers with pop sheen, which actually dims some of the feeling lurking within these songs. “Ain’t Breakin’ Nothin’ ’’ and “Is That All You Got’’ probably have good stories behind them, but ended up thin platitudes of tough guys with aching hearts. Keith is at his best pulling in the focus and letting a few good details illuminate the story, as happens with nostalgia-stirring “Kissin’ in the Rain’’ and the campy swampy-tonk of “Trailerhood.’’ Keith is nothing if not competent, but seems to have held back from letting fly. Spring for the album’s deluxe edition, which includes burly concert recordings of tunes by Roger Miller, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Paycheck, and Gordon Lightfoot. (Out tomorrow)

SCOTT McLENNAN

ESSENTIAL “Bullets in the Gun’’