August 30, 2004 12:00 PM

My Honky Tonk History

Lots of Nashville guys sing-about honky-tonks, but Tritt sounds as if he has actually been to one or two. He invests everything he sings with an aura of authenticity, the way great singers do. The best songs on this bright, engaging album feature Tritt in character as a saloon soldier, as on the raucous “Monkey Around”: “When you turn a man into a monkey, that monkey’s gonna monkey around.” The ingenious “Circus Leavin’ Town,” written by Philip Claypool, compares a man’s destructive post-romance impulses to tearing down the tents. Gretchen Wilson sings backup on the regretful “Too Far to Turn Around,” which she cowrote, and John Mellencamp makes a self-effacing duet partner on the surprisingly philosophical “What Say You.” The only faux pas is “The Girl’s Gone Wild,” recently used on The Simple Life 2. The song celebrates “Sally, Sue and Tamera, smilin’ for the camera” while “usin’ their daddy’s credit card.” It’s proudly crass, like Hank Williams Jr.’s Monday Night Football theme rewritten for the Prada set.

DOWNLOAD THIS: “Monkey Around”


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