Album Review: Tim McGraw's 'Emotional Traffic'
A sticker on the country hunk’s 11th album trumpets this as “My Best Album Ever — Tim McGraw,” a proclamation that has as much to do with PR spin as artistic assessment. After all, McGraw publicly disassociated himself from the last collection his label put out because he felt that a third hits collection constituted more milking of his fans than he could tolerate.
In truth, “Emotional Traffic” isn’t dramatically better, worse or all that different from what he’s been doing since the beginning: button-pushing ballads built largely on sentiments like those you encounter in daily affirmation booklets, interspersed with upbeat country-rock brimming with snappy instrumental hooks but little lyrical bite.
The Coldplay-ish “I Will Not Fall Down,” for which McGraw has his only songwriting credit among the dozen tracks, one he shares with Martina McBride and Nashville songwriting factory pros Brett and Brad Warren, is this album’s dime store philosophizing à la “Live Like You Were Dyin’.”
“Only Human” brightens briefly with a sweet duet vocal from Ne-Yo, while “Right Back Atcha Babe,” one of two songs from Joe West and David Pahanish, tries unsuccessfully to draw some meaning out of that most superficial of conversational retorts. Perhaps most revealing, the CD booklet details the name of every musician, background singer, tracking engineer and assistant who worked on it, but bypasses printing the lyrics.
If this is the state of emotional traffic, drivers would be advised to consult their GPS for alternate routes.
Two stars (out of four)