35: Steers & Stripes (Brooks & Dunn)

SteersStripes.jpg (400×400)

Album: Steers & Stripes
Artist: Brooks & Dunn
Year: 2001

1. Only in America (D)
2. The Last Thing I Do (D)
3. The Long Goodbye (D)
4. Go West (B)
5. My Heart Is Lost To You (D)
6. Good Girls Go To Heaven (D)
7. When She’s Gone, She’s Gone (B)
8. Ain’t Nothing ’bout You (D)
9. Unloved (D)
10. Deny, Deny, Deny (B)
11. Lucky Me, Lonely You (D)
12. I Fall (B)
13. Every River (D)
14. See Jane Dance (B)

Come 2001 I was worried about Brooks & Dunn as their music had been slowly worsening over their past few albums. The first time I spun this I was floored. Part of that, in retrospect, was my low expectations. But I was happy to see my favorite country artist come back and put together something great.

Only in America is probably the least annoying flag-waving song in country music, as it’s more about opportunity than arrogance, but it still reveals some ignorance about luck and circumstance. Thankfully, the rest of the album sticks with the duo’s bread-n-butter, relationship songs. Trisha Yearwood helps out on The Last Thing I Do, which is a lyrically improved version of the standard “trucker’s comin’ back home” song. The album’s major hit is The Long Goodbye, which isn’t terribly inspired but showcases Dunn’s amazing, amazing voice. I’m not sure anyone in country music can do a break-up ballad like Ronnie Dunn. Simply gorgeous.  His voice is also showcased well on My Heart Is Lost To You and Unloved, the latter surprisingly not released as a single. Every River, the worst song on the album, was released however, and predictably was the album’s only single not to be a top ten hit.

Kix only gets five of the fourteen songs on the album, but he does his best. One of his best five songs, When She’s Gone, She’s Gone, is a beautiful break-up song that is more about breaking up with New Orleans than the girl. Kix was always the stronger songwriter, and he really puts you in the city.   See Jane Dance is as dumb as it sounds, but Brooks knows it and it’s pretty inoffensive.

Brooks & Dunn released three more albums after this one before they broke up, and none of them were able to reach what they did here. Their songs eventually seemed less like collaborations than two guys doing their own thing and just combining their work for a release. I was neither surprised, nor sad, when they broke up.  But they had an awesome run.

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