Adkins returns to roots with ‘Proud’

By Stuart Munro
Globe Correspondent / August 2, 2011

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When Trace Adkins moved to Toby Keith’s Showdog label in 2010 after a 10-album run at Capitol, his first release for his new label sounded, by happenstance or otherwise, a lot more like Keith than anything Adkins had done before. “Proud to Be Here’’ finds him moving back toward the particular formula that has kept him in the upper echelon of contemporary mainstream country singers.

He’s a family man (“Just Fishin’ ’’), a come-on lover (“That’s What You Get’’), a patriot (“Semper Fi’’), an agitated populist (“More of Us’’), and a believer (“It’s Who You Know’’). And he’s back to a greater emphasis on ballads that provide the opportunity for a rueful reflectiveness - sometimes personal (“Proud to Be Here’’), sometimes universal (“Always Gonna Be That Way’’).

Adkins has long since left behind the musical traditionalism with which he was identified early in his career (with one exception here, the marvelous “Poor Folks’’). But as the dobro-and-fiddle acoustics of “Days Like These’’ and the hooky “Million Dollar View’’ attest, Adkins remains unmistakably country, even when, from time to time, he throws a little blues or rock into the mix. No doubt that has something to do with his unmistakable baritone, which sounds undiminished here. (Out today)

ESSENTIAL “Days Like These’’