Toby Keith, "Drinks After Work" (Show Dog-Universal)
Toby Keith opens his new album, "Drinks After Work," with a song that utilizes the hip-hop rhythms dominating contemporary country music these days. At age 52, and in his 20th year as a country star, Keith makes it work for him.
He simply applies the updated rhythms to his typical macho style, filling the lyrics of "Shut Up and Hold On" with sly wit and a load of double-entendres that will upset feminists but entertain Keith's working-class fan base.
From there, the Oklahoman slips into his wheelhouse, mixing macho come-ons ("Show Me What You're Workin' With") with philosophical slices of life ("I'll Probably Be Out Fishin'") and party tunes about escaping 9-to-5 drudgery (the title cut) -- all set to guitar-driven country rock.
What amazes is how consistently Keith hits high marks on "Drinks After Work," despite releasing an album of new material annually since 2005. The reliability comes from Keith's knack for creating new material that fits his big-shouldered, swaggering persona, with help from a well-established crew of co-writers (Scotty Emerick, Bobbie Pinson and Rivers Rutherford).
From the easy acoustic swing of "The Last Living Cowboy" to the wistful idealism of "Before We Knew They Were Good" to the contemplative romance of "Little Miss Tear Stain," these songs represent a veteran country star who remains at the top of his game.