Steven Tyler’s country outing
“Country music is the new rock & roll,” proclaims Steven Tyler in a press release for his new, and first, solo album, the inclusively titled We’re All Somebody From Somewhere.
That may come as a surprise to those of us who thought country music preceded and informed rock. But let’s not quibble: Tyler is hardly the first arena rock star to embrace roots music to convey a certain rugged authenticity.
Co-produced by Tyler with an impeccably credentialed team of country and rock vets — T-Bone Burnett, Dann Huff, Marti Frederiksen, Jaren Johnston of the Cadillac Three — We’re All Somebody can nonetheless prove surprisingly flavourless, as Aerosmith’s famously flamboyant frontman seems to strive for an earthier earnestness that isn’t a natural fit.
The title track, a well-meaning, generic call for tolerance, includes references to black-eyed peas and corn bread that are distinctly cheeky, and you can almost see Tyler wink as he raises his voice to a near-howl at the end, begging, “Give me some love!”
Tyler finds his twang, with a little help from excellent lap steel guitar and mandolin players, on the wistful Somebody New, and again on the gently crackling Sweet Louisiana.
To reward the faithful, Tyler offers a noir-ish new take on his Aerosmith smash Janie’s Got A Gun, as well as a reading of Piece Of My Heart that’s not drastically different from Janis Joplin’s.
Someday has its moments, but is recommended most to diehard fans.