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Albums Reviews

Kid Rock

Born Free
Atlantic
[Three and a half stars]

Rolling Stone IN Dec 20, 2010

With Rick Rubin producing, Rock delivers a grown-up set of Seventies-style singalongs

With his eighth album, Kid Rock has done something he’s threatened to do for years: slipped fully into classic-rock mode. Born Free has the Skynyrd guitar attack, the Leon Russell-style gospel backup singers, some fire-down-below boogie from Rock’s Detroit godfather, Bob Seger (who adds his blessing with the piano part on ”˜Collide’). The trippy, pinwheeling guitars of the closing ”˜For the First Time (In a Long Time)’ even drift into ”“ I kid you not ”“ Grateful Dead territory.

It’s a direction Rock has headed in since 2002’s ”˜Picture,’ the unexpected-smash duet with Sheryl Crow that became his career’s pivot point. Guided by producer Rick Rubin, Rock harnesses his previously erratic songwriting into a cohesive package and reveals new range, emotionally and vocally. Guest stars (Crow, Zac Brown) are deployed flawlessly: Though pairing Martina McBride with T.I. on ”˜Care’ might seem ridiculous, the song’s compassionate country soul feels nothing like a novelty. The familiar Kid Rock is still here, praising “foot-stompin’ music and wine.” But he sounds more earnest than ever on Born Free, and there’s a very adult kind of wistfulness to songs like ”˜When It Rains’ and ”˜Times Like These.’ Born Free shows that you just might be able to take the Kid out of the Rock.

Also See  Fresh Indie Fridays #33

Key Tracks: ”˜Born Free,’ ”˜Care,’ ”˜When it Rains’

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