The character traits that make Tim McGraw a good actor don't necessarily make him a salable country star in an era that prizes predictability and simplicity.
On "Sundown Heaven Town" (Big Machine), McGraw ambitiously flips through country styles like he's changing hats, tackling songs with a challenging variety of approaches that stretch both his voice and his delivery to their near-breaking points. (The near-rapping of "Looking for That Girl" is a bit much.) He's best doing classic country that tugs at your heartstrings ("Diamond Rings and Old Barstools") or the '70s-style storytelling duet with wife Faith Hill, "Meanwhile Back at Mama's," but he goes for so much more on the alt-country "Sick of Me" and nails it.
"Sundown Heaven Town"
THE GRADE B+
BOTTOM LINE Eclectic collection of country styles that brings (usually) great results.