“Country is the new rock’n’roll”-Steven Tyler

Music reviews

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We’re All Somebody From Somewhere, Steven Tyler, Dot records, 2016.

“Country music is the new rock ’n’ roll, it’s not just about porches, dogs and kicking your boots up – it’s about being real.”-Steven Tyler

Steven Tyler gone country? Get Joe Perry, quick! Aerosmith, the bad boys of Boston, are best known as rock’n’rollers with strong association to blues music, not country. In all seriousness, it is not surprising that Steven Tyler decided to branch out with a solo album (his first ever) but it is a little odd to imagine him doing country, yet that’s precisely what he does with We’re All Somebody From Somewhere.

Steven is an ambassador of rock who takes pleasure invading whichever territory he sees fit; one day it’s being a judge on American ldol, the next it might be a role in a movie or yes, country music. Perhaps we should be accustomed to the unexpected with Steven Tyler by now.

Can we really blame Steven Tyler for trying his hand at country music? Bon Jovi took the country route with Lost Highway and the album was met with commercial success. Steven’s take on the genre is less formulaic, not as produced and ultimately, more honest. Part of the project ends up sounding very similar to Aerosmith which comes as little surprise because, after all, Steven’s voice is Aerosmith. I had my doubts initially, but it sounds like something the demon of screamin’ really wanted to put his heart and soul into.

“My Own Worst Enemy” starts the album softly. Not exactly the country I anticipated and not quite rock. Nor is it a ballad, but it slow-paced nonetheless. It’s surprising how good Tyler sounds for his age, most his peers haven’t aged nearly as well in the vocal department.

The title song “We’re All Somebody From Somewhere” is like Tyler; proud, loud and in your face.

“Hold On” features delicious guitar licks. Unfortunately, they stand in the shadows of unnecessarily loud percussions and the love-it-or-hate-it “radio” effect on Steven’s voice, both proving to be too much.

“Love Is Your Name” is well justified as a choice of single. With it’s southern vibe and summer feel the song has an authentic flavour.

The soft country-pop “Gypsy Girl” is the sleeper hit here as it will probably overlooked in favour of other tunes.

I’m fond of “Somebody New”, one of the most country-sounding songs of the album. It sports a hearty chorus with especially effective backing vocals.

Like much if the album, “Red, White & You is rooted in Country and Americana. The song has summer nights listening to the radio written all over it.

It should come to the surprise of exactly 0 people that Steven tackled Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart”. The song became one of Joplin’s most enduring songs, but it fits Tyler so well you’d think it was tailored for him. The Loving Mary Band backed him on this number as well as his last solo tour.

Tyler even takes a shot at covering his own band, Aerosmith, on “Jani’s Got A Gun”. Perhaps because it is acoustic, the song’s melancholic and dramatic qualities are more prominent in contrast to the classic version. It doesn’t touch the original, but I don’t dislike this version.

It’s sad to think of Steven Tyler without Aerosmith, but if we get there —and rumours of an impending farewell tour suggests it will— the 68 year-old has no problem reinventing himself and embracing a completely different musical style. I could see Tyler continue down this path or try his hand at any musical style he desires, and do so with success.

We’re All Somebody From Somewhere was met with much apprehension from fans who saw it as a roadblock for more Aerosmith. The album wasn’t made with Aerosmith in mind, or rock for that matter. Rather, it was a chance for Steven to jam with other musicians and satisfy a craving for something new and different. It is very much an experiment. Maybe not one that will be held with high regards by purists, but one that offers a few good songs and a detached, relaxed pace.

It is beneficial to listen with an open mind because there are really good songs to be discovered. A few of the songs on We’re All Somebody From Somewhere are better than some of the material on the last few Aerosmith albums. However, the die-hard Aerosmith fan might just have repeated spins of Toys In The Attic or Rocks to forget it exists.

rating: ***/*****

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