“Going country” can be tricky business for a mainstream star, the kind of move typically pegged as musical carpetbagging at best—a game for silly tourists who try on twang like it’s a ten-gallon hat at the Nashville airport gift shop—or at worst pure opportunism. So it’s a neat surprise that Steven Tyler’s swerve into the genre comes off as organic as it does, less like a borrowed costume than a slide into something comfortably worn.
It helps that he doesn’t OD on the banjo-and-moonshine signifiers, and that his unmistakable voice, all sandpaper and weather, already sounds made for songs like these. There are achy, bittersweet ballads (“My Own Worst Enemy,” “It Ain’t Easy”), roadhouse rambles (“The Good, the Bad, the Ugly & Me,” “Sweet Louisiana”), and one blues-rock stomper, “Hold On (Won’t Let Go),” whose spirit animal is clearly the Black Keys. Covers of “Piece of My Heart” and Aerosmith’s own “Janie’s Got a Gun” feel more fond than fundamental, but as a sonic experiment Somebody suits this Boston boy: He’s not trespassing, just taking a Southern detour. B+