By Chuck Arnold Carlos Greer
February 18, 2013 12:00 PM

Tim McGraw

Two Lanes of Freedom |


Tim McGraw’s 12th studio album, Two Lanes of Freedom, marks his debut for Big Machine Records after a bitter exit from his previous label. One perk: The label’s biggest star, Taylor Swift, lends her vocals on “Highway Don’t Care,” a smooth-cruising ride also featuring Keith Urban on guitar. (Swift’s assist is an especially nice twist, given that her 2006 debut single was, yes, “Tim McGraw.”) The rest of Two Lanes takes few unexpected turns on its consistently entertaining course. Since McGraw didn’t write a lick of this, it’s a testament to his strengths as a producer (alongside longtime collaborator Byron Gallimore) and as a performer who makes you believe he’s lived each of these tunes, inhabiting them with his own personality. Highlights include the prison tale “Number 37405,” the soulful “Let Me Love It Out of You” (only on the deluxe version) and “Nashville Without You,” a tender ballad that shows that Music City without McGraw just wouldn’t be the same.