Toby Keith, "35 mph Town" (Show Dog/Universal)
For the first time in a decade, Toby Keith let two years pass between albums. As prolific as he is consistent, Keith took time off from recording — and returns "35 mph Town," an album as entertaining as his best.
Considering he writes nearly all of his material_including nine of 10 new songs_a break allowed him to cherry-pick the top tunes. Not that the veteran country star has been slipping: 2013's "Drinks After Work" and 2010's "Bullets In The Gun" also were high-water marks in his 22-year career.
"35 mph Town" highlights Keith's playful side: "Good Gets Here" and "Every Time I Drink I Fall In Love" poke fun at his foibles, while "Drunk Americans" joins a long list of Keith tunes addressing blue-collar workers' tendency to blow off steam by tipping back a few.
Keith continues country music's fixation with island rhythms on "Rum Is The Reason" and "Sailboat For Sale," the latter a duet with Jimmy Buffett, the man responsible for country's tropical obsession.
Even when walking on familiar ground, though, Keith's clever lyrical twists and narratives make the trek fresh and fun. Long may he keep cruising, at whatever speed he wants.