Album Review: “It’s America” by Rodney Atkins
Rodney Atkins really has a personality to him. Every one of his four number one hits tackles a unique, comical and entertaining subject as well as being upbeat and enjoyable additions to anyone’s playlist. However Rodney’s career begin with the hit ballad “Honesty” several years before his big break really took place, but his career never took off from that point.
In addition to the loss after “Honesty” Atkins’ string of #1 hits ended with another ballad “Invisibly Shaken”, so it is only safe to say that Rodney has reason to be skeptical of ballads, and this album definitely supports that. Save for one mid-tempo offering at the very end this entire album is free of pretty much any negativity or ballad period. Taking into account the success he had with upbeat anthems the last few years Atkins and producer Ted Hewitt have put together a collection of 11 fast paced, entertaining and optimistic anthems to follow them up.
Now being upbeat and entertaining is alright, and it obviously works for Rodney very well, however crowding and album with only upbeat and optimistic messages is both risky and bland to say the least. From the very start with “Tell A Country Boy” to the tenth track “When it’s My Time” this album really leaves little room for real feeling or significance outside of making the listener think only enough to be entertained and move on to the next upbeat song only to absorb a whole new batch of feel good messages.
To make matters worse this album is littered with commercialism. Now I personally am a fan of NASCAR, but to hear it repeatedly used twice in a row through two different songs, “Got It Good” and “Best Things”, is very repetative. This becomes a running theme throuhgout the album, with several songs reusing different aspects of others to help prove a point or drawing from cliche or overpowering humor to attract attention. Even some like “Friends With Tractors” or “15 Minutes” fail to actually pull off the humor or general concept without seeming completely bland or foolish.
Atkins is an entertainer. he shows it on stage and we hear it on the radio, but we don’t need an entire album of it. Only the closing track “The River Just Knows” really manages to tug at the heart strings and produce any real feeling for the character or sincerity in the song. Maybe “It’s America” and “Chasin’ Girls” also add a little bit of relevant significance to this project, but the lack of ballads leaves Rodney’s vocals and the limitations of the project highly restricted. Outside of these few acceptations this album’s attempt at pure entertainment and optimism only ends up becoming an overcrowded mesh of fast paced and overpowering anthems that show no real justice to Rodney’s capabilities at all.