Kid Rock, "Sweet Southern Sugar" (Broken Bow/BMG/Top Dog)
Getting your new album noticed these days seems to involve elaborate publicity stunts and social media gimmicks, but Kid Rock upped the ante this fall — he flirted with a run for U.S. Senate. Even Taylor Swift hasn't gone that far.
The Detroit rocker was, of course, just pulling our leg and now that "Sweet Southern Sugar" is out, it's pretty clear that Kid Rock should have just let the music speak for itself. The faux senator has got himself a darn good album here.
The 10 strong tracks have Kid Rock's signature stew of Southern rock, rap and country, layered with expletive-laden lyrics that evoke Old Glory patriotism, Don't-Step-on-Me cockiness and a celebration of redneck culture. It's sweet all right, with just enough sour to keep it interesting.
There are satisfying arena-ready rockers like "Greatest Show on Earth," ''American Rock 'n Roll" and "Stand the Pain" along with proud Southern-fried tunes like "Tennessee Mountain Top" and the playful, bluesy "Raining Whiskey."
Kid Rock, whose real name is Robert Ritchie, never expressly discusses politics, but he clearly revels in his political incorrectness. "I'm a thrift store of filth/I was built to enrage," he sings. "I'm a mountain of fame/the last of my kind."
His rock-rap anthem "Grandpa's Jam" — yes, the Kid is now a grandpa — bizarrely name-checks Taylor Swift, J. Paul Getty, Wolfgang Puck, the Doobie Brothers, Chelsea Handler and the Yeti. You kind of have to give him props, even as you chuckle.
In that song, he gets angry at if he's called "white trash" but he also celebrates Southern cliches elsewhere, especially in "Po-Dunk," where there's "Bible by the bed and a bottle sittin' pretty" and a "house full of youngins and a yard full of junk."
Kid Rock also gets serious with the wistful, suicide-referencing "Back to the Otherside" and a dark cover of the Four Tops' "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch," which in his hands now seems to evoke drug addiction. Yes, Kid Rock can go deep, too.
It turns out that Congress' loss might actually be our gain.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits