Sound — 5
Steven Tyler, the dynamic lead vocalist for American hard rockers Aerosmith, stepping out onto his own as a solo artist and recording a country album? This would have been news right after the release of "Rocks" or just before Aerosmith's comeback with "Permanent Vacation," however Tyler hasn't been quiet about his admiration for country music over the past few decades. It's been apparent over the last handful of Aerosmith records, especially the most recent "Music From Another Dimension," which was cluttered with twingy power ballads spanning roughly half the record (one of which was even a duet with Carrie Underwood on "Can't Stop Lovin' You," which still leaves most Aerosmith fans scratching their heads). Between that and Tyler's decision to step away from the rock group to spend a few years as a judge on "American Idol," the seemingly surprising notion that the Screamin' Demon has ventured out on his own to record an album with the assistance of decorated country songwriters in the city of Nashville is anything but. Does that mean "We're All Somebody From Somewhere," Tyler's debut solo album, is something that dedicated rock listeners should stray away from?
That decision should be largely based around whether or not you were enjoying the past few decades of Aerosmith albums. There are several songs on this release which could have passed as a new Aerosmith track, such as the modern grooving attitude of "Hold On (Won't Let Go)" and the slow acoustic vibes on the opening track "My Own Worst Enemy." There's the emphasis on vocal melody which has always been a trademark of Tyler's, not to mention the singer still has the range and emotion that we heard on "Pump," but if anything the major change lies at the instrumentation of the record. Acoustic guitars, banjo and slide guitar make regular appearances throughout the course of the effort, which winds out the country vibes of "I Make My Own Sunshine" and the title track "We're All Somebody From Somewhere." Stand assured, this is a country album through and through, and you can easily tell from the track listing alone; with songs like "Red, White & You," "Sweet Louisiana" and "Love Is Your Name" one can already anticipate what Tyler's going to be singing about, most often references to America and farmland and backyard barbeques. It's all palatable and comes off rather well, but one can't help but feel like it's forcedly trying to resonate with country listeners. "We're All Somebody From Somewhere" does pander to that audience and Tyler doesn't bring much new to the table besides his voice to these songs, aside from a rather solid rebranding of "Janie's Got a Gun" and a similarly exceptional cover of 's "Piece of My Heart," which close the album on a more resonating note.
Lyrics — 7
There's no knocking Steven Tyler's performance on "We're All Somebody From Somewhere," or really any of his recent performances in the studio or onstage. Tyler underwent vocal surgery some years back and since then has been singing as strong as ever; his range is intact and hasn't had to trade his distinctive rasp to make up for the higher notes, as some aging rock vocalists have had to do over the years. So no matter how distant the musical side to "We're All Somebody From Somewhere" may feel to Aerosmith fans, there's always that sense of familiarity throughout the album's fifteen tracks. Lyrically on the other hand, it's as commercially country as they come on songs like the aforementioned "Red, White & You": "Bang bang baby like the 4th of July/ A Lightning strike in the midnight sky/ Don't give a damn about the summertime blues/ All I need is red white and you/ Can't let those colors fade, tell me you're gonna stay/ American girls making dreams come true/ All I need is red, white and you."
Overall Impression — 5
Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler finally realizes his dream of stepping out as a solo artist and moving into the realm of country music with his debut standalone effort, "We're All Somebody From Somewhere." It isn't the most exceptional release from the vocalist, yet it retains an unfortunate relevance to the past few Aerosmith records and still has it's fair share of memorable moments. If anything, perhaps this will allow Tyler to have a new medium to deliver his country passions and allow for Aerosmith to craft a steady hard rock comeback.