Entertainment Weekly - "The album avoids bro country for slow-rolling soul-searchers and uplifting soft-rockers." -- Grade: B
Personnel: David Levita (electric guitar); Shannon Forrest (drums, programming).
Recording information: Black River Soundstage; Blackbird Studios.
There's an edge, a defiance to the title of Damn Country Music that may not surface in the music, yet it still taps into the essence of Tim McGraw's appeal: he doesn't bother with crossover, he stays true to country and doesn't care who knows it. Thing is, McGraw's definition of country music is quite flexible, something Damn Country Music makes plain. Other singers who pledge allegiance to country music are often rooted in some kind of hardcore twang -- a bit of old Texas honky tonk or perhaps Southern-fried country-rock -- but at his core, McGraw is a soft touch, easily adapting to the shifts in time without ever seeming like he's following fashion. So it is with Damn Country Music, where he spends as much time singing over gently rolling electronic loops as he does over cavernous echoing guitars suggesting so much as prime U2. Such flexibility also encompasses plenty of chipper midtempo anthems and soft-focused ballads, songs connected by their quietly insistent melodies and McGraw's equally easy touch; he never pushes too hard, a skill that's especially needed when he's piling up the platitudes on "Humble and Kind," but is always welcome no matter the tune. What's remarkable about this exceedingly laid-back album is that while it clearly exists within the confines of mature, modern country-pop, never pandering to either the bro upstarts or a crossover audience, it still feels country, because it feels true to McGraw's roots. Even during his '90s heyday, he looked over his shoulder while living in the present, happily threading in trends while seeming impervious to them. This skill is difficult to acquire but Damn Country Music, like so many other Tim McGraw albums, makes it seem as simple as breathing ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine