Garth Brooks – Man Against Machine
After a 14 year hiatus Garth Brooks has returned to work with a new set of original songs. ‘Man Against Machine’ was released Nov. 10, 2014 and debuted at #1 on the country charts, but missed the overall top spot he frequently owned before his semiretirement. Taylor Swift has proved to be an unstoppable force, and her numbers dominated Brooks. Brooks’ decision to release ‘People Loving People’ as the first single was probably a mistake, as it is probably the weakest track on an otherwise solid album.
Garth thankfully decided to stay away from the ‘hick-hop’ movement that is enjoying a (momentary) run of success, choosing instead to stick to his formula of classic country with health doses of rock and a lot of soul.
Notables include ‘Cold Like That,’ an intense ballad about not wanting to take high road for a change. The mood of the track reminds me of ‘Shameless,’ a Garth (and Billy Joel) classic that is loved by many. ‘Wrong About You’ is short, sweet, and begging to be on the radio. Upbeat and bouncy, it is a ‘love gone wrong’ song that doesn’t sound like one. ‘Midnight Train’ is dark and powerful, and very ‘Garth’-like. If you’re looking for a classic cowboy song that’s uber-country, look no further than ‘Cowboys Forever.’ ‘You Wreck Me,’ is a power pop ballad that could have easily been on the ‘Chris Gaines’ album that Garth wishes we’d all forget about, but I mean that in a nice way. It may not be ‘country’ but it is a great track.
If you’re following the track list with me, we’re up to ‘Tacoma,’ otherwise known as the best song on the album, and one of Brooks’ best ever. Straight bluesy-soul with no chaser. If this makes it to air, it has the ability to be a crossover success. Garth really puts his back in to this one, and the effort paid off. White boys aren’t supposed to be able to sound like that.
Everything else is pretty good too, and for me the only ‘skippers’ are ‘Rodeo and Juliet’ and the previously mentioned ‘People Loving People.’ Considering the album is 14 tracks, only having two stinkers is quite a feat. All in all, ‘Man Against Machine’ is a solid comeback effort from this iconic musician.