By Brian Ives
We’ve been hearing about Steven Tyler’s solo album for a looooong time, and now it’s almost here; We’re All Somebody From Somewhere is due out (July 15). Tyler started talking about a solo album during his stint as an American Idol judge about five years ago (remember his pop single “(It) Feels So Good”?).
Since then, as we all know, he’s changed his vision for his solo effort, moved to Nashville and decided to do a country album. But just how country is it? Well, it’s about as country as country music itself is today, which is to say that it encompasses music made on acoustic instruments, electronic stuff with loops, and loud arena rock-influenced anthems. At times, the album sounds like something truly different for Tyler. At others, it sounds like ’90s-era Aerosmith cranking out more tunes in the “What It Takes”/ “Cryin'”/ “Crazy” / “Amazing” / “Pink” vein (which is not a bad thing).
Here, then, are five highlights from the album.
“We’re All Somebody From Somewhere” – This song has everything, including the kitchen sink. It starts with Tyler singing over acoustic guitar and a mandolin, over a drum loop. Like the single “Red White and You,” it’s patriotism through Tyler’s multi-colored lenses. About a minute into the song, it sounds like Tyler and his cohorts walked into a second line parade in New Orleans. Now, if that happened in real life, Tyler would surely invite the second liners to come along, and that’s what happens here. “We’re all somebody from somewhere/Some mama, some daddy, some love in the air/ Some big, some little, some left, some middle, some white, yellow, black or red.” On top of this, the song allows Tyler to shove a few of his multi-sylable wordless runs in; it’s kind of the perfect merge of Steven Tyler and country music.
“Hold On (Won’t Let Go)” – Three tracks in, Tyler clearly shows that even if he has “gone country,” he’s still making his own rules; he could never leave blues and rock behind. This song sounds a bit like the modern blues of Kaleo, mixed with a bit of the Beatles’ “Yer Blues.” It’s an intense performance that also features Tyler’s nasty harmonica playing and some cool backing vocals by Lenny Kravitz. This one wouldn’t have sounded out of place on an Aerosmith album.
“Love Is Your Name” – Written for Tyler by Nashville hit makers Eric Paslay and Lindsey Lee, it’s the first taste of the album, and months after its release, it holds up really well. It doesn’t sound out of place next to country radio’s other hit makers, but also doesn’t sound like too much of a stretch for Tyler, either.
“The Good, the Bad, the Ugly and Me” – This Black Crowes-ish jam sounds like something Aerosmith could have done. The line “You’re not no Tina Turner, it’s your nut bush get it on” is pure Tyler; that’s a lyric no one else could have gotten away with.
“Sweet Louisiana”– One of the more obviously “country” songs on the album, thanks to the very prominent steel guitars. A very “organic” sounding track, it also has a bit of accordion. The song is catchy as hell, and wouldn’t be a bad choice for the next single.