By Ken Tucker
June 08, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Danny Clinch/Corbis Outline

Big Dog Daddy


Toby Keith may be the ”Big Dog Daddy” of the title tune, and you know that brash, braggy song is going to sound great in a tour-date arena. But Big Dog Daddy, the first album he’s produced himself, is also his most intimate, and Keith has found a way to let his sensitive side show without wimping out. To some folks, Keith’s image — the anti-Dixie Chick, the truculent rabble-rouser — gets in the way of the music. Yet I don’t know how anyone could listen to the delicate, high-lonesome croon he applies to ”I Know She Hung the Moon,” about a comfy but crackling romantic relationship, and doubt the guy’s artistic sincerity or his chops.

If his Southern-rock-riffed power-country songs like ”Big Dog Daddy” and ”Hit It” have a certain Hank Williams Jr. bombast, Keith’s head, heart, and nether region seem more fully committed on other songs here — in the clever wordplay and even more cleverly sung tunes such as ”Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya” and ”High Maintenance Woman.” His power-ballad single is the hell-yeah-I’m-earnest ”Love Me if You Can.” But the fact is, the sexiest song on the album — ”Burnin’ Moonlight” — is about a hot monogamous relationship. All of this suggests Keith understands that beyond its default mode of rowdiness, country music is the soundtrack for adulthood, its pleasures as well as its disillusionments. A-
Download This: Hear ”I Know She Hung the Moon”

Big Dog Daddy

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