Three Grammy awards and 11 No. 1 country albums have made Tim McGraw a legend. Factor in his big-screen success and a high-profile marriage to fellow country icon Faith Hill, and McGraw sure seems to live a blessed life. Does he pass that blessing along on Southern Voice, his 10th studio album?
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
"Still" thanks God for cherished family memories. On "If I Died Today," a man ponders his legacy ("Would I be easy to forget?"). "I Didn’t Know at the Time" illustrates the wisdom bestowed by age, parenthood and hard knocks: "Thought I knew it all/But I was wrong/And I didn’t know it at the time." The title track celebrates a long list of Southern heroes (Bear Bryant, Billy Graham, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks), along with hospitality, patriotism, NASCAR and Bible Belt values.
"I’m Only Jesus" is sung from Jesus’ perspective as He observes the ruined lives of people who’ve made poor choices (involving drugs and violence) but are too proud to ask for help: "I’ll help you if you ask Me to/ … But I can’t decide the road you choose/That’s up to you." The song ends with, "I gotta have Jesus to set me free."
Other tracks address broken relationships. On "You Had to Be There," a man visits a young prisoner in jail and confesses that he abandoned him at birth. With their relationship "established," the man chastises the boy for his choices, but his son retorts, "You had to be there, and I’m talkin’ from day one/That’s the only time a man should talk through glass to his new son."
On "Love You Goodbye," a teenage boy leaves home when his dad’s alcoholism becomes overwhelming. Then, at his mother’s funeral, he sees his now-sober father for the first time in years and the two mend their relationship.
"Good Girls" tells the story of a woman who cheats with her lifelong friend’s husband. The betrayed woman kills her friend and herself by driving in front of a train, saying, "Hey, if I can’t have him neither one of us will."
"It’s a Business Doing Pleasure With You" depicts a woman’s irresponsible spending. And her man implies that he’s doling out the money in return for sex: "’Cause for a little of your lovin’/There ain’t nothing much that I wouldn’t do."
"Mr. Whoever You Are" involves a hard-working factory woman who lets off steam at a bar each night—frequently going home with her dance partners ("Their bodies feel like they belong/And the boys hold on tight thinking/’I might get lucky tonight’/They’re probably right").
On "Forever Seventeen," a struggling middle-aged woman acts like an immature adolescent when she turns to marijuana, wine and promiscuity to cope with life’s disappointments. And the jailed young man on "You Had to Be There" suggests that some people’s wild ways can’t be tamed, even when someone’s praying for the prodigal.
"Southern Voice" praises Jack Daniel’s. A few tracks include references to smoking cigarettes. Mild profanities ("h‑‑‑," "d‑‑n") pop up, too, and we hear a misuse of God’s name.
Southern Voice ends up a blessing and a curse. Homespun lyrical nods to Jesus, family values, wisdom and sweet tea clash with rebellious good ol’ boy (and girl) pastimes like sipping whiskey and going home with just about anybody.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
McGraw’s 10th studio effort debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s 200 and No. 1 on the country chart.
October 20, 2009