Brooks & Dunn’s ninth studio album was HILLBILLY DELUXE (2005, Arista Nashville). It peaked at #1 on the US Billboard Top Country Albums chart and at #3 on the US Billboard 200. Four singles from the album hit the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
The lead single, ‘Play Something Country’, was Brooks and Dunn’s 20th and last #1 single on the Billboard Country Singles charts. It was inspired by tour mate Gretchen Wilson, and is one of five co-writes by the duo of Ronnie Dunn and Terry McBride (former frontman of McBride and the Ride) on this album. If you like fun, upbeat, honky tonk story songs, you’ll love this one: “Yeah, she blew through the door like TNT/Put her hand on her hip, pointed her finger at me/Said ‘I’m a whiskey drinkin’, cowboy chasin’, hell of a time/I like Kenny, Keith, Alan and Patsy Cline/I’m a full-grown queen bee lookin’ for honey/Ah oooh aw/Play something country’”. ‘She’s about as Lonely as I’m Going to let her Get’ is a country and western ballad of compassion: “Oh, off across the room/She sits alone/Pretty as a picture/Sadder than a sad song/Well, I’ll do whatever it takes/Try whatever works/I can’t just sit here/And watch her hurt”. ‘My Heart’s Not a Hotel’ includes these lyrics many men will relate to: “Oh, my heart’s not a hotel you can check in and out of/It’s not a temporary shelter, it’s a home for someone’s love/Don’t just come here when you’re lonely/Knowing full well you won’t stay/Cause I don’t have the strength tonight to turn you away”.
‘Whiskey Do My Talkin’’ is a country/rock song that contains a lot of truth: “If I met her on the street in the broad daylight/I couldn’t bring myself to speak or get a word out right/But you put me in a barroom/You put a drink in my hand/I’m a cool, calm, collected/Silver-tongued ladies man”. Brad Crisler and Craig Wiseman wrote the title track, ‘Hillbilly Deluxe’. It was the album’s last single and peaked at #16. This strong country song paints a picture of some folks’ idea of paradise: “Hillbilly deluxe/Slick pick ‘em up trucks/Big timin’ in a small town/Stirrin’ it up right about sundown/Black denim and chrome/To the bone with a little homegrown/Country girl cuddled up/Hillbilly deluxe”.
‘One More Roll of the Dice’ compares romantic relationships to gambling: “One more roll of the dice/Maybe just one more shot in the dark/One more chance that your luck might change/While you still got a little something left of your heart/She’s a game you can play/Not a game you can win/But one more roll of the dice and you’re believing again”. ‘Just Another Neon Night’ paints a picture of an eventful, in some places typical, weekend evening: “Getting drunk, getting loud/Billy throws a punch in the crowd/Some cowboy’s lights go out/Runnin’ wild, getting high/Smokin’ tires through the lights/LIvin’ like we’re never gonna die/It’s just another, just another neon night”.
‘Believe’ is a terrific inspirational faith-based ballad that makes good use of a choir: “I can’t quote the book, the chapter, or the verse/You can’t tell me it all ends in a slow ride in a hearse/You know I’m more and more convinced/The longer that I live/Yeah, this can’t be/No, this can’t be/No, this can’t be all there is/When I raise my hands, bow my head/Oh, I’m finding more and more truth in the words written in red/They tell me that there’s more to this, than just what I can see/I believe, oh I/I believe (5X)”. The song was the album’s second single. ‘Building Bridges’ is a country/pop track that nicely features guest vocals by Vince Gill and Sheryl Crow. It includes these words desiring a relationship to be reconciled: “Since you’ve gone/My heart says something’s wrong/How long can this keep going on?/I’m still blue over losing you/What else am I gonna do?/I’m building bridges straight to your heart/And all of this distance/Won’t keep us apart (2X)”.
Kix Brooks and Bob DiPiero wrote ‘Her West Was Wilder’, a song about a lover leaving: “I was gassin’ up in a dust storm outside of Sedona, she was chasin’ a tumbleweed/She flagged down a Kenworth, jumped in the cab/That was the last of her I’d ever see (2X)/Where the wild wind blows and anything goes/As long as it’s over the line/I gave her my best/But her west was wilder than mine/It was wilder than mine”. ‘I May Never Get Over You’ is a tender song of lament: “Seems like overnight/From out of the blue/Something went wrong/Between me and you/Oh, I’ll move on, I’ll be strong/Do what I have to do/No matter where you are/You’ll always have my heart/I may never get over you”.
‘She Likes to get out of Town’ is a peppy country rocker all about having some weekend fun: “She’s got a little glove box with everything she needs/Got some red lipstick, and some Mardi Gras beads/Got some party girlfriends like to keep it unwound/That girl likes to get outta town.../She was born to shake it and it’s not her fault...”. ‘Again’ is about a love rediscovered: “It’s the darndest thing/Who comes back again/Baby, I thought that love was over and gone forever/Never gonna come back to me/Never gonna hold me again/But your love pounds in my heart like thunder/Flashes through me like lightning/Making me believe again”.
HILLBILLY DELUXE is a slam dunk, knockout country music record from Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn. Both of their vocal performances are memorable. Background vocalists used include: Lisa Cochran, Wes Hightower, Kim Keyes, and Terry McBride. There’s a nice mix of all out party songs and more reflective songs. Players on the album include: Tom Bukovac, Terry McBride, Brent Mason, Michael Rhodes, Shannon Forrest, Gordon J. Mote, Hank Singer, Steve Herrman, and Stuart Duncan. As a work of art, this record is pretty close to flawless. I love the inclusion of ‘I Believe’, which is more Christian in nature than many songs by CCM artists. I`m rating HILLBILLY DELUXE 100%. For more info visit: www.brooksanddunn.wordpress.com.