Street Sounds: Steven Tyler’s new album ain’t exactly country

The long-awaited country album from singer/songwriter Steven Tyler is out, and aside from some clichés, it ain’t country.

The long-awaited country album from singer/songwriter Steven Tyler is out, and aside from some clichés, it ain’t country.

We’re All Somebody from Somewhere is the Aerosmith frontman’s first solo album and the country angle comes from its Nashville setting.

Tyler recorded it there with producers T-Bone Burnett and Dan Huff.  He’s backed by a Nashville band, Loving Mary, and producers and band give Tyler’s sound and songs a roots vibe, especially ballads like Gypsy Girl. This song brings out the best in Tyler the balladeer, and is cooler and more natural than some of Aerosmith’s grandiose big budget schlock like I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.

We’re All Somebody From Somewhere isn’t overblown and highlights Tyler’s melodic touch and his interaction with his backing band.

In the context of Tyler’s usual style, the country tag also takes its cue from instrumentation. Mandolins, banjo, pedal steel, acoustic guitar are featured on some tracks (Somebody New, It Ain’t Easy) and he references dusty boots, black-eyed peas, uses the “ain’t” word and whiskey several times, although the latter is also in several Aerosmith recordings.

It’s interesting that The Rolling Stones at their height played country sounds and nobody made an issue of it. There are also hints at Tyler’s stadium-inspired power balladry done down home (Only Heaven), and the old Aerosmith chestnut, Jamie’s Got a Gun shines with a moody backporch treatment here.

There’s some fine material here, but there doesn’t need to be a big “country” proclamation. Steven Tyler rocks, regardless.

Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who reviews the latest music for The Morning Star every Friday.