Sound — 7
What a long strange trip Kid Rock's career has been. Before his career took off Kid Rock was a straight up hip hop artist playing clubs with local success in the late 80's and early 90's. He gave up hip hop and slowly rebranded himself as a rock act. When he first came back into public notice it was with his 4th studio release, "Devil Without A Cause", in 1998. At this point his music was straight forward rock with some rapped lyrics and now in 2012 he is deeply entrenched in southern rock with some pretty extensive forays into country music, with very occasional rapped lyrics or more hip hop tracks. So, basically you have someone who started their career purely hip hop and are now considered as THE most well known southern rock act of our times with the exception of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
"Rebel Soul" is Kid Rock's 11th studio album, and contains 14 tracks. The total run-time of the album is a few minutes over an hour. The current lineup of his band has been fairly stable since around 2007, with the addition of Shannon Curfman who was added in 2010 on guitar and backing vocals. Stacy Michelle who had previously added backup vocals left the group in 2009, as well. Like a lot of other southern rock bands, the sound depends on multiple guitars Kid Rock's current lineup consists of 3 guitarists, not including his own occasional playing live. Bones Trombly and Paradime add keyboards, organ, turntables and programming. The end result is a very full textured tapestry of sound on every song you really won't find much in the way of stripped down tracks on this album (though Kid Rock does marginally attempt the stripped down blues sound that has been popular lately with the track "Catt Boogie"). From a stylistic point of view, Kid Rock knows what he is doing his song structure, instrumentation, backup vocals and vocal harmony it is all immaculate in its own context. This is a solid album.
Lyrics — 6
"Rebel Soul" finds Kid Rock continuing his recent attempt of mixing in some political views and social commentary, which has been showing up on his last few albums. Kid Rock obviously supports the troops and wants to make sure we all know it. My brother is in the military and I am proud of him and what he does, but with a lot of the support the troops music that comes out it just feels like artists are capitalizing on the market. I feel like that is what is going on with Kid Rock, but I guess when you look at the time he spends performing for troops and such it doesn't really matter if he is sincere. Kid Rock's voice is really the ideal for his specific brand of music with strong melody sounding like it is coming through slight gravel. You can't really complain about the quality of the vocals. With the exception of just a couple of covers on the album, the remainder was written by Kid Rock.
From the first single off of "Rebel Soul", here are some lyrics from "Lets Ride": "Used as a scapegoat taped to the wall/ bruised and abused on some foreign soil/ trained to kill baby, that's what we do/ and programmed to bleed red white and blue/ come on and grab your guns, lets ride/ and may your conscience be your guide/ I'll say a prayer for you to make it through to the other side/ tonight's the night we fight or die/ grab your guns son said we headed for war/ like your uncle JT done years before/ no p*ssy, no dope, this ain't Saigon/ but keep your heads up for roadside bombs/ c'mon and grab your guns let's ride/ and may your conscience be your guide/ I'll say a prayer for you to make it through to the other side/ tonight's the night we fight or die/ Even in darkness you're my strength my soul my will to survive/ but in this fight I stand ready to die".
Overall Impression — 6
My favorite song on the album would probably be "Chickens In The Pen" and my least favorite song by a large margin is "Happy New Year". It may just be me, but the song "Happy New Year" grates on my nerves like crazy for some reason. I hate to say it, but I really like the song "Cucci Galore" the funky bassline and rhythm are really catchy, and when the heavy chorus comes in the song won me over. In retrospect, after several listens there are songs for everyone (with a lot of genre blending) and well practiced song craft involved in this album. Kid Rock has been active in music for a good while now, and while he has changed over time, you have to admit he knows what he's doing. If you are a fan of Kid Rock's previous work then you will enjoy this album. If you are a fan of southern rock then you will enjoy this album. If you are looking for an album to play in your pickup truck while you go mudding, you will probably like this album. If you are a huge fan of Cannibal Corpse then this might not be an album you'd enjoy. I personally find myself somewhere in the middle. While I like the album well enough, only a few of the songs really stand out to me. You may want to preview and then pick and choose which tracks you purchase.