Tim McGraw, Let It Go

Tim McGraw
Let It Go

Since he broke through in 1994 with the one-two punch of a novelty hit (“Indian Outlaw”) and a heart-wrenching ballad (“Don’t Take the Girl”), Tim McGraw has been refining that formula. With each album, the material got stronger, but the approach remained pretty much the same. Each album would feature big, meaningful ballads with a spattering of up-tempo guffaw numbers in the mix. His previous studio album, the thoroughly excellent Live Like You Were Dying, he finally perfected this approach, and turned in his best album to date.

Three years later, he’s finally following it up, and Let It Go thankfully doesn’t try to recreate that album. Instead, Tim has taken a completely different approach, turning in a country-rock record that has surprisingly few ballads and only a token “message song” thrown in along the way. Good thing he backed off on those types of song, as the drunk driver warning “Nothin’ to Die For” is tedious and forced, the only big clunker on the album.

This is McGraw’s third album he has recorded with his touring band The Dancehall Doctors, and this is the first time that they truly sound different from the standard Nashville studio musicians. McGraw sounds like the lead singer of a kick-ass band; the musicians elevate his performance, playing off of his vocal turns and creating a sonic atmosphere that’s immediately distinguishable from everything else on mainstream country radio these days.

I’m not a huge fan of the lead single “Last Dollar (Fly Away)”, which would make a great Big & Rich song but doesn’t quite work for Tim. Thankfully, the quality gets better quickly. “I’m Workin'”, written by Lori McKenna and Darrell Scott, convincingly captures the stress of a family where each parent is working different hours. “Between the River and Me” is a surprisingly aggressive murder song which finds a teenage McGraw killing his abusive stepfather.

Even better is the duet with Faith Hill, “I Need You.” It’s a dark love song, to be sure, with a chorus comparison to a needle and a vein. Hill’s a fantastic singer, and her smoky vocal does most of the heavy lifting, elevating McGraw’s performance in the process.

There’s a bit of filler that keeps this from being one of McGraw’s best records – a few of the love songs are interchangeable, like “Put Your Lovin’ On Me” and “Comin’ Home”, but McGraw’s vocals are better than ever and the Dancehall Doctors provide strong aural wallpaper all the way through. The good thing is that McGraw’s new approach has made his music interesting again, and hopefully the next time out, he’ll be more sonically adventurous and have some more ambitious material.


  1. Again we do not hear the same thing the same way. Mcgraw has grown as an artist and this is the result of that growth. The journey he has taken his fans on has been an incredible ride. From a talented young singer starting out on his earlier releases that were safe and popular and appealed to the lusty women in his fan base to the mature vocalist he is today that can take an average song and style it just the right way so that it forces a hit out of an otherwise mediocre tune, McGraw is the Real Deal. He is the King right now, and I am gladly one of his many followers. ***** 1/2

  2. We seem to disagree on the stars the album deserves, but I’m stingy with them on studio albums. I’ll be posting reviews of a few more albums over the next couple of days and you’ll see what I mean. I do like the album quite a bit, and I think we’re pretty much saying the same substantive thing about the album. I might even be praising it more!

  3. Also, if you go back to some of the archives of the site, particularly the Features, you’ll see a whole lot of Tim praising. I agree with you that he’s the Real Deal. One of the best of his generation. I fully expect him to be in the Hall of Fame.

  4. This is a awesome album ! Tim is the King ! There is a song everyone can relate too, for me , Let It Go. I’m a nurse when I was working the nightshift, I can certainly relate to I’m Working. All the songs are great, can’t decide which I like the Best.

  5. While “Put Your Lovin’ On Me” sounds like a love song, I’ve always thought thought it was more dark than romantic. To me, it seems as though he’s using the girl as a band aid rather than a lover:

    Verse 1:
    There’s nothing here to catch me now
    I’m gonna fall anyway
    It’s just that kinda day
    You might not know me good but you know me good enough
    To make me okay, okay

    Just close your eyes and put your lovin’ on me
    Put your lovin’ on me
    Take this weight off me
    And put your lovin’ on me

    Verse 2:
    There’s a chance that you might see something rolling off my cheek
    But don’t stop it’s not you
    Make me forget, be my drug get me high on your touch
    For the night alright

    Repeat Chorus

  6. Tim McGraw is the real deal. He is the best, the KING of country music! He has grown and his voice has got stronger as the years go by…..keep it comin’………..love ya Tim

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