‘We’re All Somebody From Somewhere’ by Steven Tyler (Album)
With his debut solo release, the Aerosmith frontman proves that the difference between rock and country isn’t actually that great
When an artist as established as Steven Tyler releases their first solo album this late into their career, it’s easy to dismiss it as nothing more than a muscle-flexing exercise, or worse, an irrelevant footnote. That this is also Tyler’s debut foray into country music, might lead some alarm bells to ring even more loudly, but in fact – along with his army of co-writers – he has created an album which is an accurate representation of the genre in 2016.
That isn’t an outright compliment as much as a reflection on the current sound emanating from Nashville. The commercial side of country is a closer ally to the rock world inhabited by Aerosmith than is immediately apparent. Both genres make equal space for bravado and bedside sentiment, as if the current stars of country are the rhinestoned reincarnations of the rock gods that faded away over the last couple of decades.
This is echoed in the album’s general thrust. Ballads such as My Own Worst Enemy and Gypsy Girl stand alongside more upbeat numbers like The Good, The Bad, The Ugly & Me and the scuzzy title track – think Kid Rock. You’d be hard pressed to know which genre a song like Only Heaven actually falls into, so strong is the cross-over. The appearance of his day band’s much-loved Janie’s Got A Gun only highlights the fact that this might not be as much of a departure as first assumed.
Certain tracks stray too far into box-ticking territory. Red, White & You feels a little too much like a shameless plundering of your archetypal modern country track, complete with “Tom Petty on the radio”. And that’s the line which We’re All Somebody From Somewhere continuously walks. For every toe-curling Train-lite I Make My Own Sunshine, there’s a twinkling of genuine class like It Ain’t Easy. Of course, a consistent plus throughout is the strength of Tyler’s vocals.
In many ways Tyler has just thrown a blanket of banjo and fiddle over his old band’s sound, but it would be churlish to hold that against him, as that’s what artists like Keith Urban and Blake Shelton have been doing their whole career. One thing for certain is that Tyler has fully committed to this latest venture and, for many reasons, the results make compelling listening.
Verdict: Modern country with added rasp