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Picks and Pans Main: Music

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Tim McGraw

Emotional Traffic |


Like being stuck on an L.A. freeway during rush hour, Tim McGraw’s Emotional Traffic has been sitting on the shelf since 2010, its release delayed while the country star battled with his record label. Was it worth the wait? Most definitely. McGraw himself has called it “my best album ever,” and it’s hard to argue with him. The set includes “Felt Good on My Lips,” the feel-good single that topped the country charts more than a year ago, but the fresh stuff shows that good songs don’t have any expiration date. Highlights include “Right Back Atcha Babe”-which, with its shades of soul and soft rock, brings to mind Hall & Oates-and the wistful closer “Die by My Own Hand.” There’s even a duet with Ne-Yo, “Only Human,” that works surprisingly well. Best, though, is the reflective “Better Than I Used to Be,” surely one of the finest songs McGraw has ever recorded: “I ain’t as good as I’m gonna get/ But I’m better than I used to be.” Amen, brother.