Rolling Stone - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Kid Rock's journey from abrasive rap metal to unreconstructed heartland rock has landed him in a sweet spot: big guitars, big drums, big choruses and gravelly vocals."
Billboard - "The production is crisp and clean, the guitars are sparkling, the vibe is rollicking but relaxed. And surprisingly, kicking back suits Rock: He sounds better here than he has in a long time."
Audio Mixers: Kid Rock; Al Sutton.
Recording information: Avatar Recording Studios, NYC; Blackbird Studios.
Photographer: Clay Patrick McBride.
Kid Rock gives away the game in his album titles, making it plain on 2015's First Kiss that he's taking a sepia-tinted look back at his past, thinking back fondly to lost love and old tunes. In short, he's tapping into the nostalgia that coursed through his last big hit, 2008's "All Summer Long," and turning it into a full album. Generally, this means leaning hard on his longstanding Bob Seger infatuation and ratcheting up the country inclinations that turned a little too stuffy on the Rick Rubin-produced Born Free. First Kiss is looser than that 2010 affair and, lacking such monuments to tackiness as "Cucci Galore," it's not as raunchy as 2012's Rebel Soul but, bless his heart, Kid hasn't gotten tasteful. When he sings about "Johnny Cash," he's envisioning himself as the Man in Black to his paramour's June Carter, he still snarls out the F word with a smirk and has the best time singing blues songs about booze. Whenever the tempo slows, Kid Rock slips into sentimentality, which he frequently does on the back half of the record. As long as he sticks to a bit of a Southern-fried soul groove, as he does on "Best of Me," he still works up a pulse but the seemingly blasphemous back-porch pair of "Jesus and Bocephus" and "FOAD" don't make nearly as deep an impression as "Drinking Beer with Dad," a heartfelt ode to tradition from the former rebel. Earlier on the album, Kid Rock admits "we can't fight this getting older" and that weary yet warm acceptance of his middle age is why First Kiss works: it's a bit bumpy and sometimes sleepy but it finds old Bob Ritchie settling into his comfort zone, knowing that he's in it for the long haul. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine