Album Review: Neal McCoy - XII
By: Matt Bjorke
After a long and steady career with various Warner Music’s labels (Warner Brothers, Atlantic, etc), Neal McCoy moved from that label to his own label and released an album on his own before finding a new home with Blaster Records. The album XII (Twelve) represents the 12th album of his career and it also finds him doing what he does best, performing nimble mainstream country music tunes as good as anything else on the marketplace.
Lead single “A-OK” (which features album co-producers Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert on harmony vocals) was written by Brett Eldredge, Barry Dean, and Luke Laird and features a lyric that is all about not taking your troubles too seriously saying “save your troubles for another day” and imploring the listener to instead know everything will be alright. “Real Good Feel Good” is another tempo-filled song and this one, written by Dallas Davidson, Sam Hunt, and Jimmy Richie, the tune again showcases McCoy delivering a potential radio hit.
“Judge A Man By The Woman” is a sweet and laid-back ballad that recalls classic McCoy ballads like “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” while the Jamey Johnson and David Tolliver co-write “Mouth” is charming and fun and classic country at its finest. “Mouth” is the kind of humor-filled ‘ditty’ that used to always have a place on country radio (and would if Blake Shelton or Brad Paisley released it). This is as fun a song you’re gonna find on a mainstream country album in 2012.
“Shotgun Rider” is a Peach Pickers tune that also features Keith Anderson as a co-writer and it’s as fun and radio-ready as nearly every other song they’ve ever recorded while “That’s You” and “Lucky Enough” showcase that Neal McCoy can write songs that are as good as the best songs from Nashville’s top stars. Neal’s been known to dip into past catalogues for great songs that might not have been given their due in the past and that’s exactly what he does on “Every Fire,” a beautiful and emotive ballad that features Miranda Lambert on harmony vocals. In a just world, this tune would be the big ole smash on the record.
“That’s Just How She Gets” is another sweet tune while “Boderline Crazy” takes McCoy back to his Tex-Mex roots (and was also recorded by Kevin Fowler for his most recent album “Chippin’ Away.” It’s very much in line with “Two Piña Coladas.” The album closes out with a beautiful tune called “Van Gogh.” Written by Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin (the writing team behind “The House That Built Me”), “Van Gogh” is a song that is a vocal stunner, a lyrical gem and any other adjective one can think of yet if I had to give one fault to the song, I’d say that it’s probably ‘too slow’ for mainstream radio but it will make for a great show-stopping moment in Neal’s fun and energetic concert performances.
Over the course of XII (Twelve) we have a dozen songs that showcase the versatility of Neal McCoy and also showcase one of the best vocalists from the 1990s – who is most affiliated with ditties – and bring him back to the forefront where he belongs. The production from Brent Rowan, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert is spot on and it all adds up to an album that is well worth hearing.