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Tim McGraw and Faith Hill - The Rest of Our Life (Album Review)

Friday, 01 December 2017 Written by Simon Ramsay

In 1985, shortly after Tipper Gore and her cronies started protesting against music they deemed ‘unsuitable’, stickers were affixed to certain albums with a warning: Parental Advisory - Explicit Content.

It’s safe to say those won’t be needed for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s long-awaited collaborative record. This glossy affair, although sure to delight their fans, should instead be emblazoned with a sticker that reads: Under 30s Advisory - Idealised Romantic Middle-Aged Content.

Produced by Bryan Gallimore and Dann Huff, with songs penned by lauded Nashville songwriters like Lori McKenna, Hillary Lindsay, and pop heavyweights like Ed Sheeran, the album superficially touches on various sides of adult relationships.

Its default setting is predominantly slow ballads laced with vocal interplay and easy listening melodies. The duo’s chemistry, after 21 years of marriage, goes a long way.

Some will think Bed We Made is blander than a paper omelette, while others may deem it a soothing aside. But there’s something about the comforting soulfness of McGraw’s voice and Hill’s powerhouse emoting that, regardless of who’s taking lead, infuses each lyric with a relatable earthiness.  

The classy, sentimental title track bursts with vulnerable declarations as two lovers let go of their fears and plan to grow old together. Break First, meanwhile, is about a separated couple who miss each other but are afraid to say so. Damn Good At Holding On, on the other hand, depicts a rocky relationship’s ability to endure. Hill’s performance here shows why ‘The Rest of Our Life’ is, in many ways, her album.

Love Me To Lie is a dramatic epic that reminds us, over a decade since her last proper studio effort, of her talent for conjuring goosebumps, while Speak To A Girl boasts a timely subversive edge. It’s a perfect antidote to modern bro-country acts who paint women as subservient, one-dimensional props with bare feet and cut-off jeans.

Stylistically speaking, there’s some nice variety here, too. McGraw brings his down home nostalgia to Cowboy Lullaby and impresses on Devil Callin’ Me Back, which mixes bluesy country with a killer pop hook. It’s also pleasing that these songs are fully fleshed out and don’t just rely on the vocals.

Sleeping in the Stars’ guitar glisten provides picturesque narrative reinforcement, while Telluride grooves with the restless excitement of Ryan Adams’ New York, New York before unleashing a hoedown finale brimming with southern gospel uplift and Lynyrd Skynyrd abandon. More uptempo numbers like this would have been welcome.

Yet, even if this record floats your boat, the fact McGraw and Hill aren’t songwriters is a letdown. They can deliver any tune with utter conviction, but if they’d have been able to craft an autobiographical record it would have taken us behind their superstar wall, adding interesting personal depth and honesty to proceedings.

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