Garth Brooks is huge. He’s colossal in the U.S, but elsewhere he is still pretty damn huge. A lot of these country musicians don’t translate well outside their home country, but like the greats such as Dolly Parton or Hank Williams, he has that knack of reeling you in and making you listen. Well, Garth has decided to make all his fans jump for joy after a long wait of thirteen years for a new record, and he’s given them something special with new record Man Against Machine.
The first thing you hear is the album-titled opener and it really shows the essence of the singer with its soulful harmonies stripped back against a Hammond organ, before heavy stomps kick in to bring it right back to the current day; undeniably country but mixed with Garths penchant for Rock. It’s with this mixing with rock music that Garth made his name, and it’s on show here in flutters throughout the record. Cold like That again follows the trend serving up a stadium rock venue filler with a hint of Nickelback about it, but enough of himself to pull it off.
It’s not all big and ballsy however, and there’s a few country classics on their to satisfy your taste for the old school. She’s Tired of Boys is the usual hankering for love ditty with plenty of heartbreak backed up with good harmonising, whereas Fish features a nice mentality with pretty guitar and foot stomping rhythms.
Rodeo and Juliet has to be mentioned for two reasons; one, it’s an awesome name for a song, and two, for its playful nature and way with words which doesn’t grow old throughout the fast paced track. It owes as much to blues as it does to country, and it’s not the only track that does – album closer Tacoma is stripped down blues at its best with all the heartfelt honesty and pain you’d expect from a country blues combination.
For all the albums good points however, it does lack in a couple of areas. The overall sound of the album doesn’t step away from it’s American safety zone, and it would have been interesting hearing Garth try and take on other types of music. He’s been so good at shape shifting in the past, it would have been nice to hear something completely different. All American Kid is almost too American and twee and could be hard for the untrained listener to appreciate, whereas Cowboys Forever clutches at sentiment without truly managing to hold onto it.
These are but a couple of negatives on an overall positive experience and shouldn’t take away from the fact, that after a long time out, Garth Brooks has proved he still has what it takes in today’s music industry. Fans will rejoice, sideline sitters will succumb, and new ears will enjoy.