With a simple, instantly relatable song like “Find Out Who Your Friends Are” it was inevitable that country radio would notice Tracy Lawrence again. An artist who’s sold millions upon millions of records, long with two dozen or more hits singles, Lawrence has been put through the wringer as of late when the last two record companies that he recorded for (Atlantic and DreamWorks) were swallowed up by their corporate ‘brothers.’ While Warner Brothers and Mercury/UMG Nashville did release one record each for Tracy, they didn’t exactly give him much of a promotional push, something that even stars need once in a while. Just as Tracy was about to sign up Sony Nashville, it too merged with RLG Nashville (BMG). Fed up with all the corporate BS, Tracy decided to start his own label with the founding of Rocky Comfort Records.
The first album released under the Rocky Comfort banner is “For The Love.” “Find Out Who Your Friends Are” is the lead-off single from the record and after almost a year at radio, Tracy became the first artist on his own label to score a number one with their first release. The song serves as the perfect reminder of Tracy’s talent. With twangy guitars and delicate fiddle and steel guitar fills, Tracy sings a lyric about being down and out and having friends who ‘step up to the plate’ and deliver in his time of need. It’s a situation I’ve been in as I needed someone to tow me (not once but twice) from a car accident. Some people may not have much money but they will give you the shirt off of their back and that’s what “Find Out Who Your Friends Are” is about.
“You can’t hide redneck, ‘neath a 3 piece suit, no starched white collar gonna keep it from bleeding through, ya might as well forget it, it’s gonna find it’s way out, no you can’t hide redneck, might as well be proud.” This chorus (from “You Can’t Hide Redneck”) tells a story of people returning to their ‘backwoods’ hometown for their high school reunion. If you’ve been to one then you will instantly relate to people who try to prove how much they’ve changed and are different from the past they’ve tried to runaway from when deep down they’re not. I may not have been to such an event yet but I have seen people try to do such things and on a certain extent, it’s human nature to try to ‘change for the better’ even if we’re still innately the same people on the inside.
The title track is interesting because it features 3 Doors Down’s lead singer Brad Arnold. “For The Love” is a duet that tells the story of people who sacrifice their lives to give to others, be it as a singer or a more ‘true hero’ type of person (a police officer is the example given in the song). Arnold acquits himself quite nicely on the uptempo song as he harmonizes with Lawrence. Perhaps 3 Doors Down will be crossing over to country like Bon Jovi. I know there’ll be a few rock fans who wouldn’t mind that at all (while there are quite a few country fans who would). The traditional steel guitar drenched (gasp! there’s a solo even!) “As Easy As Our Blessing” is followed by the shuffling, fiddle-laced “Speed Of Flight.” Fans of Tracy’s 10-year old hit “Texas Tornado” will enjoy the similar melody.
Always a sucker for a well-sung piano/vocal song, second single “‘Til I Was A Daddy Too” grabbed a hold of me before I even really listened to the lyrics a couple of times. While not a father, I can relate to the lyric because it’s the love that I see dad and mother have for me as I cavort throughout the world (despite one of their objections). As a fan of songwriter/artist Billy Yates, I just love that Tracy has recorded a song of his. “You’re Why God Made Me” is a sweet, cute, ‘wish I could write that’ type of country love ditty. It’s the kind of traditional country song that the silky-voiced Lawrence really digs into. The record ends with a ‘star-studded bonus version’ of “Find Out Who Your Friends Are.” It’s an interesting convergence of three of country music’s most popular male artists of the last 13 years. Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney join Tracy as they swap lines of the song. While the song has absolutely no chance of being a radio hit (as an officially released version of the single), it’d make for an interesting video at least.
With 11 well-recorded and vocalized songs Tracy Lawrence really has created perhaps his best record since his “Lessons Learned” record that was released seven years ago. There isn’t anything on the record music wise to suggest that “For The Love” is anything but a professional, well-made, album (as some country indie records have felt/sounded like). The cover artwork could’ve been more thought out (it seems cheap looking to me) but the tray liner and liner notes are fine. When all I can truly gripe about a record is a shoddy album cover then the artist must be doing something right.