In recent interviews, Kid Rock has all but admitted to having jumped aboard the rap-metal train to establish himself; his real loves, he contends, are Southern rock, blues, and other forms of Americana. Surely aware that hip-hop & roll is on the decline, and emboldened by ”Picture,” his hit mope-and-potatoes duet with Sheryl Crow, Rock uses his fifth album as an opportunity to indulge in those other interests. ”Kid Rock” puts forth the conceit that beneath the former Bob Ritchie’s black hat and braggadocio lies a sensitive, country-and-rock-loving Everydude.
Boasting here about groupies and his sexual potency, and reminding us once again that his taste runs from Lynyrd Skynyrd to early hip-hop (but not ”new-wave techno bands”), he can still be the same old Kid. Only now, he’s crooning, not rapping, about those topics. He’s a natural next-generation classic rocker with an appealing, humble singing voice, but he wastes his time on proficient monster-truck boogie like ”Cadillac Pussy” and ”Hillbilly Stomp.” He also drops more cliches than he used to: In ”Rock n’ Roll Pain Train” and ”Cold and Empty,” he recycles the lonely-star-on-the-road theme of ”Only God Knows Why.”
Ironically, the more Rock expresses his true self, the more generic he sounds. ”Picture” felt like the work of someone who had just learned how to write songs, and ”Kid Rock” features more of the same balladry, complete with such sentiments as ”You’ve got to stop and take a look, man, or life will pass you by.” He’s like the earnest folkie who slips his own rudimentary tunes in between renditions of hits — an impression exacerbated by respectful covers of songs by Bad Company (”Feel Like Makin’ Love”) and Bob Seger (”Hard Night for Sarah”). ”Kid Rock” wants us to believe its star is an ordinary guy, but the music needn’t have conveyed the same idea.