Tim McGraw @ Salt River Fields
Last year, Tim McGraw left Curb Records after 20 years to join Big Machine Records. Contract disputes and lawsuits ensued upon the shift, but it seems to have been the right step for one of country's most consistent stars. Coming just two weeks after his first collaborative album, Tim McGraw & Friends, February's Two Lanes of Freedom is his most complete, soulful record to date. Strong harmonies and vivid lyrics carry it from start to finish, hitting levels McGraw hasn't captured since 2004's Live Like You Were Dying. An impressive four singles have earned airplay, demonstrating his range — "Truck Yeah" and "Southern Girl" are country-rock party anthems, while "One of Those Nights" and "Highway Don't Care" paint a slower, more detailed picture, capturing a moment in the uncanny way his best songs manage. (Taylor Swift, on leave from her teen-pop tone, offers a hypnotic chorus on the latter track.) After a successful co-headlining tour with Kenny Chesney in 2012, McGraw is headlining his own summer excursion this year, the aptly named Two Lanes of Freedom Tour.
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