By Meghan D. Shapiro
Wouldn’t it be cool to have Trace Adkins as your dad?
He’s been through everything — from working on the oilrigs in the Gulf of Mexico to headlining sold-out shows in Nashville and beyond. He overcame a substance abuse problem, co-starred in the Christmas spoof, “American Carol,” takes care of his family and, oh yeah, on Nov. 25, released his 10th studio album, X, which hit No. 7 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums earlier this week.
Yeah, he’s done all right for himself. After all, it’s his experiences that make him so great.
X is a combination of comedic, light-hearted songs, like “Better than I thought It’d be” and “I’m Only Hauling One Thing,” brought together with a deep, emotional twist that’s found in “All I Ask for Anymore,” a song about finding oneself and putting family first, and the album’s debut hit single, “Muddy Water.”
One of the brightest gems found on X is “Sometimes a Man Takes a Drink,” a song that clearly stems from personal experience and struggle, but is written about a man who is run down on his luck, and uses alcohol to try and forget his problems:
“Sometimes a man takes a drink/So he can just throw his head back and laugh/At things he can’t change/Like the bills he can’t pay and all of those ghosts from the past/It’s the crutch he leans on when things have gone wrong/Life didn’t turn out like he planned/Sometimes a man takes a drink/Sometimes a drink takes the man.”
“‘Til the Last Shot’s Fired” is hands down the most sentimental song in the collection. It gives voice to dying soldiers on the battlefields of our nation’s most historical wars — the Civil War, World War II and Vietnam. It’s one of Adkins’ more serious ballads, where the soldiers in the song pray for peace, crying out that their souls would never leave the battleground until the war is over; despite knowing that war will always exist and there could never be a “last shot fired.” Adkins invited the choir at West Point to sing, which can be heard at the very end of the song.
But it’s not all about tear-jerking songs for Adkins. Album-opener “Sweet” is a funny song about a man who brings home a roughneck country girl to his mother who wants him to find a “sweet” woman. And Adkins uses his trademark pipes in “Hillbilly Rich,” a lighthearted number about redneck riches, sold out shows in Dallas and meetings at Wal-mart.
I appreciate his humorous songs, but Adkins’ greatest hits surely show off his deeper side. He may have had hardships and shortfalls in his life, but those experiences have served him well — what else would we want him to sing about?