If you haven’t been confused by Steven Tyler at some point in your life, you haven’t been paying attention. Sure, he’s one of the coolest rock stars out there, but it’s when he deviates from his rock persona that we start to get scared. From becoming an American Idol judge to riding Rockin’ Roller Coaster at Disney World with fans every few months, Steven Tyler is always doing things that seem completely uncharacteristic. Maybe we should be used to it by now, but we’re not. We just aren’t. His latest little adventure into non-rock territory involves an entire album. A country album to be exact.
When he announced his first solo venture, Tyler said the motivation behind his genre-switch was his love of playing with melody. He talked about how country (which has become increasingly more mainstream in the past decade) focuses on melody in a way that’s really appealing to him. Makes sense. That being said, there’s a whole lot more to country than just the music, and that’s where we were afraid he would lose us.
Remember ‘Love is Your Name,’ Tyler’s first country single from last year? The song is great. It’s well-written, well-sung and catchy as they come. The only problem is when you put Steven Tyler in a country video. Here’s a little refresher:
We suppose his fashion sense lends itself easily to the whole gypsy-community-in-the-forest thing, but it’s pretty strange to watch him sing on a rustic back porch, and lust after a manic-pixie-dream-girl who looks younger than Liv Tyler. And yet, it’s not that bad. We like the song and the video is actually pretty good when you imagine it’s not Steven Tyler. We liked it so much, it made its way into our summer playlist.
The album, We’re All Somebody From Somewhere, is that same feeling 14 times over. Confusion, enjoyment, and more confusion. There are a few songs–like the title track, ‘Hold On (Won’t Let Go)’ and ‘The Good, The Bad, The Ugly & Me’–that sound more like his signature rock style than country. ‘We’re All Somebody From Somewhere’ even ends with one of those signature Tyler yells.
For the rest of the album, Tyler is full country. He employs steel guitars and mandolins and strips down most of the songs to minimum instrumentation. ‘Sweet Louisiana’ seems to be almost too aware of its own country-ness. With a very twangy sound (and voice) Tyler manages to fit ‘bayou,’ ‘poison ivy’ and ‘tall green grass’ in the first 30 seconds as he plays into the perfect country girl trope. It’s so overdone, it could be satire. We’re not sure if it is though. More confusion.
Then there are songs that are mostly country but a little pop-y and end up being some of the catchiest on the album. We can already picture ourselves humming ‘I Make My Own Sunshine’ on our morning jaunts into the office.
So regardless of all the weirdness that is a non-rock-n-roll Steven Tyler, we kind of like it. Actually, we really like it. The album is catchy and fun, plus, who can deny that iconic voice? Maybe Steven Tyler is actually a great example of how not to get too stuck in your own ways. If he can go from Aerosmith front-man to a solo country artist, we can switch up where we get our coffee every once in a while. And maybe we’ll be listening to We’re All Somebody From Somewhere while we do it.