Story by: Gavin Craig, staff writer
“And now these days when I drive through a small town, I turn my stereo up and roll my windows down…”
This is one of the lines heard in a thirty-second iTunes preview of Kid Rock’s newly-released album “First Kiss.” While it can be hard to judge an entire album based off of a portion of one song, this preview left me under the impression that the rapper-turned country-rock-singer’s tenth studio album was going to be little more than a mediocre collection of songs that sounded like a rip-off of Florida-Georgia Line.
Regardless, my status as a longtime Kid Rock fan compelled me to give it a chance, and recent events had left me with money to burn, so I went ahead and bought it. Surprisingly enough, by the end of the fifth track, I reached the conclusion that “First Kiss” is easily one of Kid Rock’s best three or four albums.
The first track, “First Kiss,” for which the album is named, was highly predictable coming from an artist like Kid Rock in terms of its lyrics and message about good times and simple fun, but it sports an energizing sound that carries on from the first few guitar chords to the final chorus. Other songs worth mentioning include “Johnny Cash,” “One More Song,” and “Drinking Beer With Dad,” all of which win a little more with their lyrics than their sound.
I think that it is important to bear in mind the vibe that “First Kiss” gives off compared to earlier works such as the 1998 album “Devil Without a Cause.” The former gives listeners a feeling of happiness, bliss and recollection of old memories, while the latter seems to be full of anger and chaos. To me, this shows the changing of the singer’s mindset over the years, which has evolved from that of a rebellious teenager to that of an older man looking back on his life. This idea is the heart of what makes “First Kiss” great in my mind.
On the other hand, this album definitely has its flaws. For instance the song “Ain’t Enough Whiskey” shows Kid Rock’s trademark political ignorance and closed-mindedness, especially in the lines, “Monkeys in suits writing laws and rules, they just bicker and fight, but I ain’t gotta listen to them fools, ’cause I know what’s right.” It seems like he has not quite caught up with the majority of society in that regard, and showing it in his lyrics is detrimental to the album.
My only other complaint lies with the song “Jesus and Bocephus,” a religious song that sounds somewhat like it belongs in a church sermon, rather than with the other songs on the album.
While not perfect, “First Kiss” is a solid collection of works that is definitely worth buying.