Steven Tyler, "We're All Somebody from Somewhere" (Dot/Big Machine)
The opening stanza of Steven Tyler's move into country music includes references to Jesus, mama, bullets and whiskey. On paper, those clichés feed those who see the Aerosmith veteran's Nashville embrace as a desperate attempt to stay relevant by finding a musical genre that will accept him.
Those naysayers would be wrong. "We're All Somebody from Somewhere" — Tyler's first solo album — plays to his strengths: inventive melodies, angelic harmonies, a juxtaposition of swagger and sensitivity, and room for that acrobatic voice to soar and strut.
Tyler wraps his scarves around a few Nashville tropes: Banjos, fiddles, mandolins and steel guitars populate several songs, including "It Ain't Easy," a clever ballad about life's struggles, and the philosophical "I Make My Own Sunshine" would fit on a Kacey Musgraves album.
Some tracks show little Nashville influence: "Hold On (Won't Let Go)" returns Tyler to an early influence, the Jeff Beck Group, but that won't bother old fans or young country rockers. Only on "Red, White & You" does Tyler stoop to corny bro-country banalities.
"We're All Somebody from Somewhere" might not return Tyler to the top of the charts, but it suggests he still has a few tricks tucked into his velvet boots.