Trace Adkins, "Proud To Be Here" (Show Dog-Universal)
On his previous album, Trace Adkins came out stomping and snarling like a riled-up snake, creating the hardest-rocking album of his career. But the album failed to generate any top 10 hits.
Understandably, on his new collection "Proud To Be Here," the tall country star returns to what he does best, using his deep, gruff baritone to lend philosophical weight to sensitive songs about love, lasting relationships and working-class value.
The album's first single, "Just Fishin'," perfectly captures the sentimentality of a father and an elementary school-age daughter spending a morning on the water, with the focus more on togetherness than on what they catch.
Other songs rise to the same level, from how the title cut recognizes the blessings that have come his way to the way the songs "Days Like This" and "Poor Folks" find beauty in a simple life.
Adkins can rock, as he's proven regularly in the past. But when he slips into a conversational tone and delivers story songs about what matters most to him, as he does throughout "Proud To Be Here," he is as good as anyone in contemporary country music.
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: On "Love Buzz," Adkins slides into a funky groove to express how high he feels after spending time with the woman he loves.