It took more than seven years for this moment, but alas, it is upon us. On 11/11, Garth Brooks fans made a wish that new music from their favorite artist would appear in their GhostTunes lockers and those wishes came true when they saw this tweet:
— GhostTunes (@GhostTunes) November 11, 2014
And the goodness just kept right on coming as fans then downloaded Man Against Machine to their computers and listened to fourteen tracks being sung by one of the smoothest, most beloved voices in country music history. Those who have stayed the course of Garth’s beautiful career were also given the opportunity to sit back and reminisce about the past twenty-five years of their lives, while simultaneously looking forward to the next leg of the career on which this legend is now embarking.
This particular Garth Brooks fan has been waiting for this day since the moment the realization sunk in that perhaps new music from this artist was a thing of the past. I distinctly recall that day in the early 1990s when my friend played me “Papa Loved Mama” and showed me the dance she and her sister made up to go along with the track. I instantly fell in love with the song and it was that very moment when I fell in love with country music as a whole. I suppose I can just go ahead and blame Garth for the path I have chosen to follow in my life … and by “blame,” I mean thank sincerely.
Garth Brooks fans, Man Against Machine is everything you know, love, and missed about this timeless performer and will become the reason generations of country music fans to follow will find a place in their hearts for the genre. In fact, there is a child somewhere who will hear one of these tracks and, twenty years later, share with the world a story similar to mine; one of finding a passion for country music.
Prior to releasing Man Against Machine at midnight on November 11th, fans were reacquainted with Garth through his meaningful song with the powerful message, “People Loving People.” “People Loving People” is a track that Garth chose for his record as the lead single due to the importance of its lyrics, and, in today’s day and age, rightfully so. When fans pre-ordered the album, they received this single immediately, along with the sentimental “Send ‘Em on Down the Road.” The latter is a song about parenthood and lessons Garth learned during his temporary retirement from creating new music. Though these two songs weren’t necessarily “new” by the time fans received the album in its entirety, fans will find that they are perfect fits into the album and everything for which it stands.
The album opens with the title track, an upbeat song that is an excellent introduction to a versatile record that opens with a bang and ends with a beauty. Garth immediately brings fans in with magnetizing opening moments of the album before unleashing a power-packed lead track.
Songs like “She’s Tired of Boys,” “All-American Kid,” “Rodeo and Juliet,” and “You Wreck Me” consist of the classic Garth Brooks sound that has been missing from country music for far too many years. If you are looking to embrace the past, live in the present, and anticipate the future, Garth’s collection incorporates music that will take you on such a well-rounded ride. Notably, “Rodeo and Juliet” is redolent of “It’s Midnight Cinderella” and “Longneck Bottle,” if the melodies of the two songs were combined to create one new masterpiece. When discussing his new album with him, Garth agreed with my assessment and also explained to me that “‘She’s Tired of Boys’ is like ‘That Summer,’ backwards.” These specific tracks will not only appease long-time Garth fans and remind them of why they became fans in the first place, they will also attract a newer generation of country music fans while providing them with small tokens of history.
Highlights on Man Against Machine, aside from the simple fact that Garth Brooks’ vocals grace us for fourteen songs, include “Cold Like That,” “Mom,” and “Tacoma.” Each of these four tracks opens dramatically and with poignant, pristine instrumentals.
“Cold Like That” is a ballad with an explosive chorus that showcases the incredible range and emotion that Garth Brooks is notorious for demonstrating in his music. With lyrics like “you burn so hot that you get what you want, yes you got what you wanted, then your love gets stopped and the temperature dropped like your heart was haunted; I wish I could be cold like that, then it wouldn’t hurt so bad,” Garth sings about wishing he could be heartless enough to avoid hurt. “Cold Like That’s” fiery chorus moves Garth toward the rock ‘n’ roll sound that he embraced during previous songs like “Shameless” that have become fan favorites.
Startlingly distinguished from “Cold Like That,” “Mom” is a more stripped down, albeit equally impassioned, song that tells the story of an unborn child having a conversation with God about what to expect upon his arrival. Questionably Garth’s next single (due to his recent performance of the tune on Good Morning America), the world has already melted in his hands over this slow and saccharine ode to the love of a mother.
My personal favorite song on the album is the final track, “Tacoma,” and it seems I am not alone in that sentiment, as Garth explained last week that he placed the song at the end of Man Against Machine because it, too, is his favorite. In fact, the spectacularly powerful ballad has become a joking point of contention in the Brooks’ household, as Trisha Yearwood recently spoke up about her disdain that her husband was able to record the gem. A song that exhibits just how vocally talented Garth is, likely moreso than any other song that he has ever released, “Tacoma” is a tune about stepping on the gas, leaving someone behind, and hoping that his/her memory will dissipate in the dirt road’s dust. Garth takes fans to church on the fourteenth track, and it’s a church that nobody will ever want to exit.
Man Against Machine provides old and new fans with a perfect taste of who Garth Brooks is as an artist and a person. He carefully chooses his songs, pours himself into the performances of those selections, and only puts absolute perfection into the universe for people to absorb. It is not only exciting to see Garth return to the country music industry, but it is a distinct honor and privilege to be a small part of his return, even if it is just by spending some time studying his album and sharing my thoughts with our Country Music #CMchat readers.
Welcome back, Garth Brooks. You, sir, have indeed made your return. The machine ain’t got nothin’ on the man when the man is you.
As of today, November 11th, you can now also follow Garth Brooks on social media networks: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Make sure you drop by his sites and leave him a message with #WelcomeGarth!
Watch Garth Brooks perform “Mom” on GMA
Order Man Against Machine on GhostTunes
Follow me on Twitter @JenSwirsky
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