Sound — 7
Kid Rock started his career in the music industry in the early 90's as an angst-filled rapper of a sort who eventually matured into the guy from Michigan who specialized in southern rock. After hearing "Born Free" being played during many sporting events on TV, I am born ready (insert cheesy drum fill) for "Rebel Soul". In his first album released to iTunes, Kid Rock maintains his course of good ol' American southern rock but you can definitely feel his rap influences in certain songs like "The Mirror". It's also interesting to see his use of mechanical claps in this album and how they are contributed in both a southern and rap context. As I said, in certain songs like "Cucci Galore" and "The Mirror", it is quite easy to see that Kid Rock was once a rapper. And then to the exact opposite, you have songs like "Cocaine And Gin" and "Redneck Paradise" which follow southern rock ideas (did I really need to say it?). On "Cucci Galore" in particular, I thought he did a particularly good job of striking a relationship between rap and rock, using rap verses and meshing them with a killer riff, which led to an exceptional chorus. The guitar solos under the main rhythm also provided a nice texture to make this song a favorite. "Midnight Ferry" illustrates Kid Rock's taste by using a simple, quiet structure for the guitar so that his vocals are valued most along with the hallelujah hey chorus line that he does with female backing vocalists. Even the guitar fills blend in in a way that I wouldn't quite notice them if I wasn't a guitarist. Nevertheless, this isn't a negative because it puts the song on a unicellular course, which suits it well. "Let's Ride", a patriotic song written for the U.S. Military, presents a great hard rock riff at the beginning that isn't really used again throughout the song, but the feeling permeates through, mixing well with the other parts of the song. The reason I highlight this song is that it diverges from the two dominant genres of this album southern rock and rap and instead just takes a straight rock approach. Lastly, I thought "Mr. Rock N Roll" was the best song on this album. It starts off with a cute little groove on the ride cymbal before breaking into a pentatonic fueled rocker that has a hint of southern feel. The song slows down quite a bit in the middle, giving way to harmonized vocals with a lead guitar in the undercurrent. It then goes back to the main section of the song that takes the song home. The way the piano, guitar, and harmonies mingled in the mix was excellent. This is the song that most makes me want to jump around on the album leading it to be the song that I would most want to hear live. Overall, most of the songs on this album are fully southern rock with the exceptions I noted above and then maybe a few more. There were usually guitar leads but it varied to what degree and at what volume and gain level. There was a consistent serving of vocal harmonies, some done by Kid Rock, others done by female vocalists. The drums, piano, and bass all complemented the music very well.
Lyrics — 8
Lyrically, Kid Rock impressed me with his lyrics that were sometimes funny, sometimes serious, and sometimes just plain rock and roll. They impressed me because they all accomplished their purpose in their respective songs, a characteristic true in all of the instruments on this album. I'm still trying to decide if "Redneck Paradise" is an insult or not with the line, "I might get a little tipsy - I might be past my prime - But pour me some gin with (?) whiskey - and I'll show you a real good time." He also fairly impressed me on "Mr. Rock N Roll" with the line, "he rocked around the clock in blue suede shoes - but still there ain't no cure for the summertime blues - he took a Mississippi Queen to Katmandu, a Stairway to Heaven and yelled Hey Jude - so now tell me ____ Mary who do you love?" Granted these lyrics follow a tried and true rhyming scheme, I'm an easy person to impress and when I can memorize verses from songs like that, I give the artist credit for making the lyrics memorable. Vocally, Kid Rock excels on this album, controlling his use of his voice and harmonies to add depth to the album. As I said before, Kid Rock was able to shape his voice and instruments so that they complimented each other and focused on a certain sound at a certain time, making the songs relatively easy to follow for the listener.
Overall Impression — 8
On an impression standpoint, my first one is that this album was very well thought out from beginning to end. Though I wish there was less flat southern rock, Kid Rock obviously knew what he wanted on this record and delivered a refreshing mix of rock, southern, and rap all inside a Ted Nugent like republican, redneck paradise. I believe that this album will easily suit a mainstream music crowd, which will probably lead to some of the songs gaining radio credibility, a characteristic that too many of the artists discussed on UG lack. I definitely think that a song or two will make it as a sports television staple, like "Born Free". Anyone on this website, regardless of your personal preferences, ought to give a few of these songs a listen because I think that the depth will pleasantly surprise you, if you're willing to look for it. For me, this album has already earned a spot among the 630 songs on my iPod and it will surely occupy a fair amount of my listening time for the next few weeks. On "Rebel Soul", my favorite song is "Mr. Rock N Roll" and I hope someone comments positively on "Cucci Galore" or "The Mirror" because this type of rap isn't nearly as treasonous as other mainstream material and it ought to be given a chance. By Parker Abt