Kix Brooks, ‘New to This Town’ – Album Review
If nothing else, the 12 songs on ‘New to This Town’ — the first solo album from Kix Brooks in 23 years — serve as reminder that we really don’t know the mustachioed half of Brooks and Dunn very well. The project is is downright rowdy, and Brooks is a more colorful singer than he showed on songs like ‘Lost and Found.’
His voice is somewhat of an acquired taste that some will give up on, however. Crooning isn’t his specialty, and he mostly stays away from it. Songs like ‘My Baby,’ ‘Tattoo’ and the bluesy ‘Complete 360′ are where this country rocker is most comfortable. He said he made an effort to get back to his pre-B&D barroom days on ‘New to This Town,’ and it shows.
A thick Louisiana drawl brings the swamp to life on ‘Moonshine Road.’ One can imagine the thick moss, the steam off of Lake Bistineau and the guys and girls making trouble on its banks. A locomotive backbeat provides the engine, but Brooks’ subtle inflections and elongated phrasing really make this one unique. This style defines his singing.
The title track sounds better followed by 11 other songs than it did on the radio. ‘Next to That Woman’ is another highlight. Again, his unconventional delivery will throw some off, yet there’s artistry even in the most mainstream of the many rockers on the album.
“Crazy’s something that I know / Hell I’ve been to Mexico / Juarez ain’t got nothing on that woman / Fast ain’t nothing new to me / I’ve been to Bristol, Tennessee / Them boys are standing still next to that woman,” he sings. There isn’t a lyrical effort that will win a CMA Award on ‘New to This Town,’ but no song comes across as amateur, either.
The album’s glue is its sincerity. Nothing feels contrived. Even the dips — ‘Bring It on Home’ and ‘Let’s Do This Thing’ — sound like tracks only Brooks could cut. He wrote or co-wrote nine of the 12 songs, but the entire dozen are well-rehearsed and genuine. His time with Brooks and Dunn pays off in production, as the album is performed and assembled by true pros. Guitar lines are razor sharp, the drum work is crisp and reliable, and steel guitars and background vocals add country character that is mostly taken for granted, but valuable.
‘New to This Town’ may not hop its way into one million shopping carts, but those who enjoy it will find themselves coming back to it regularly. Brooks leaves a deep impression and proves himself to be something of a risk taker, capable of churning excitement for future projects.