I rarely listen to the radio anymore, since I normally prefer my own collection of music. That should make the Arbitron survey that I'm supposed to do this coming week relatively simple! But as I was driving the children around in the great white van yesterday, I did happen to have the radio on, and I took note that the song, "Proud of the House We Built," by Brooks & Dunn, is getting airplay. I was glad to hear it. It's a great song, and one of the many highlights on a great new record, Cowboy Town, which was released earlier this week.
Brooks & Dunn have been making solid country music for a good many years now, at least since the early 1990s. I think they've only gotten better with time. Anyway, the last couple of records have been outstanding, and Cowboy Town has continued in that trend. Musically, they've been steady and consistent. They have their own distinctive sound; not only their voices, which complement each other well and are ideally suited for the genre they sing, but also their musical accompaniment, the tone of their guitars, the rhythm of the drums, the cadence of their beat. There's a nice variety within each of their records, but it all works within recognizable parameters. There is one new song, "Drop in the Bucket," that could honestly pass for classic ZZ Top, but otherwise you know a Brooks & Dunn song when you hear it.
The songwriting has improved, however, and that's where I think they've really gotten better over the past two decades. The ability to write and perform good songs is more important in country music than rock 'n' roll, and it has become a genuine strength of Brooks & Dunn. They have a sense of humor, which isn't overplayed or too much, but they also know how to be serious and reflective without becoming preachy or pedantic. You get the idea that they actually live in the "real world" and care about it. They have a playful side, which is refreshingly playful, yet there's clearly more to their lives than goofiness and good times. I don't know for sure, but I'm willing to guess that Kix and Ronnie are family men with wives and children. At any rate, the better and more durable country acts tend to be married with children (and those who aren't stand out).
Cowboy Town is entertaining and satisfying, and I suspect that it will wear well with repeated listening. I don't know for sure whether my Zach or DoRena will like it; I'm sometimes surprised by their tastes (go figure), but I do think they should each give this one a listen. I'm loving "Proud of the House We Built," both as I reflect upon my own family and our current plans and prospects, and as I consider the future homes that my older children are on the verge of establishing and building for themselves. I'm certainly proud of my family and our home, in a way that has little to do with buildings and a whole lot to do with relationships and values.
Some of the other highlights on Cowboy Town are the title track, "Johnny Cash Junkie (Buck Owens Freak)," "Cowgirls Don't Cry," "Put a Girl in It" (which may be my personal favorite on this record), and "Tequila." The aforementioned "Drop in a Bucket" is also quite a good song, and, really, the whole record is quite solid. For those who like such things, I do recommend it.