Award winning Country singer Garth brooks returns to music charts, following a four-year hiatus with his new album, “Fun.”
Postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and released on Nov. 20, his 14th studio work showcases aspects of his craft that helped him reach international success. Starting with his foundation, members of The G-Men, a studio band that’s worked with Brooks on most of his recordings are present.
Bruce Bouten’s (steel guitar), Mark Casstevens’s (acoustic guitar), Rob Hajacos’s (fiddle), Milton Sledge’s (drums) and Bobby Wood’s (keyboards) collective rhythm lumbers along smoothly on the celebratory album opening, “The Road I’m On.” Playing for the song and not a personal spotlight, the sextet lets Brooks’s roots — visions of blue collar labor, Americana and the adoration of fans — dance freely in a grateful feeling, Pop-Country atmosphere.
With his heart on his sleeve, Brooks attests that life isn’t all hard work and play, shifting to romance and blues, honoring balladry as he often does.
“That’s What Cowboys Do,” laments a fleeting love but also praises the rodeo lifestyle, concluding that ramblin’ is just the price owed to a living that offers so much excitement.
Still heartfelt, ”Shallow” (The duet with Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood) a cover of the same song from the musical, “A Star is Born” (2018) and “Stronger Than Me” are worth a listen for Brooks’s vocal range. The latter, a penning about a woman’s love — a force powerful enough to help her lover through anything, blanketed with vibrant orchestral arrangements, is also proof of his songwriting chops.
“Where the Cross Don’t Burn” (feat. Charley Pride) is a political commentary delivered in a sermon-type style. Thank fake news for this one: Brooks was reminded that he wanted to collab with Pride for years, when he read mistaken reports that Pride had died. Quickly discovering the hoax, he called and booked time with the singer/guitarist who died last year.
Brooks’s lyrics, “We’d meet up every morning at that riverbend. It’s were I learned about Jesus from my only Black friend” delivered with soulful expressions are memorable and relevant. Not forgetting Honky-Tonk good times and classic Country Rock on this well-crafted 15-track output, “All Day Long” and “Dive Bar” (feat. Blake Shelton) are in tune for any fans who like to get a little rowdier. “Amen,” with a sexy wink, is funky and big sounding with glorious horns and lively back-up singers, showing that it doesn’t really matter how adventurous the multi-award winning Brooks gets. His potent recipe of honoring style staples and pushing his own artistic boundary only sweetens his legacy.