A lot of artists can tell you how they feel, says Tim McGraw, but when somebody can tell you how you feel, and you didn't know it or couldn't put it into words, that's the goal. What you want to do as an artist is let someone discover how they feel from your music, in a really visceral way, from the inside out. For twenty years, McGraw has been providing that kind of powerful connection with his audience. With Two Lanes of Freedom, his new album and first release for Big Machine Records the singer is covering his broadest emotional range yet, with a set of songs that looks forward and back, gets deep and gets loose, and reveals that even the biggest stars can continue to grow with consistency and maturity.
If the album addresses a set of classic themes in country music, part of the reason may be that it was recorded in a very traditional fashion. "We were in the studio for two weeks straight, from ten in the morning until eleven or twelve at night," says McGraw. "It was like the old days of making a record, like a bunch of guys going in a submarine and making music. But the sound that resulted, with hints of everything from rock to hip-hop to bluegrass, is hardly limited to the conventional country playbook. I don't ever want to paint anybody into a box when we're in the studio," says the singer. "We want these guys to come in and bring everything they have to the table."
"These songs are written and constructed in a way that people can impose their own memories and put themselves in your place, like going to a great movie and making yourself the hero," he says. "Art has to be cathartic; that's why people enjoy it. It makes you think or reflect, it purges you emotionally. That's what propels you as an artist, and it's what makes a listener stay engaged."
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