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Album review: Toby Keith’s ‘Bullets in the Gun’

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Toby Keith has a genuine gift for writing blue-collar scenarios full of imagery that’s ready-made for music videos.

Case in point: The new album’s first single, “Trailerhood,” paints a scene of guys with beer guts and poker-playing old coots living in a mobile-home park. The title track —a variant on Marty Robbins’ tragic folk fable “El Paso” — is equally cinematic, as is “Kissin’ in the Rain.”

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Generally, his songs about the world around him are more vividly distinctive than those dealing with what may be going on within. “Somewhere Else,” “Is That All You Got” and “In a Couple of Days” have a few nice writerly details in their romance-gone-bad setups, but they don’t offer much wisdom.

The album, however, concludes with the gloriously lunk-headed “Get Out of My Car.” Enlightened male-female relations it ain’t, but Keith does know how to set up a musical punch line. Besides, it’ll make a great music video.

A deluxe edition includes four bonus live tracks that show off his good taste in picking outside material by Roger Miller, Waylon Jennings, Gordon Lightfoot and Johnny Paycheck.

—Randy Lewis

Toby Keith
“Bullets in the Gun”
(Show Dog/Universal)
Two and a half stars (Out of four)


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