Tim has long been a favorite of mine. A main-stay in my top 5 artists. This release does nothing to move him out of that category, however, it does nothing to move him any higher either.
In recent years, Tim has taken to recording with his road band, The Dancehall Doctors, which has helped give his albums a more Country feel than the releases from the late 90's. In 2009, with Southern Voice, we heard Tim start to eveolve a little more, and add a little more Rock to the Country, but in a much more cohesive and powerful way than what he had done years before. With this release, it sounds as if Tim took a musical trip back to his Pre-Road-Band-In-The-Studio days. While some might see this as a bad thing, and I myself, was hoping it wouldn't be this way, Emotional Traffic has turned out to be a very powerful album. Sadly, Tim's band only performs on one track here, and you can here imediately, that their influence is gone from the rest of the record. But if you remember back to his brilliant Set This Circus Down, you'll remember that Tim had a lot of musical magic even without his band in tow.
We are treated to some arrangements that Tim hasn't really used in the past, to give some of the tunes a darker, jazzy type feel. The first two tracks are the best evidence of this. There is the token McGraw penned song, which has become par only in recent years. These are usually good, stand-out tracks, and the ballad chosen here is no different. Very strong and well produced, and even co-written with a woman who knows her ballads, Martina McBride.
The inclusion of last year's smash Felt Good On My Lips fits very well on this album, and it's placement in the running order provides the perfect kick once the tempo starts to slow.
Something I'm not used to getting with a McGraw album, is the singles being the strongest tracks. But here, sadly enough, it is true. Not to take away from the other songs, but the record company made a good push to get the better tracks on the radio.
Overall, it seems Tim has become not too offended about them "Put(ing) pop in (his) Country" anymore. It's not what I expected in this point in Tim's career, but the album does stand out as a very well performed and produced piece, which will seemingly stand the test of time. Emotional Traffic will get better with each listen, as does each of Tim's releases, and will remain a beloved part of any fan's collection.
Stand out tracks include;
The Rocking but mellow opener, "Halo."
The curent radio hit "Better Than I used to Be."
The Christianity-on-sleeve "Touchdown Jesus."
Last Year's rocker "Felt Good On My Lips."
McGraw's own, Inspirational "I Will Not Fall Down."
The Introspective closer "Die By My Own Hand."