Tim McGraw has not only built a legacy as one of the most popular country artists of the last three decades, but also one of the most successful artists in the world with over 50 million record sales. ‘Here on Earth’ is the singer’s first solo album in 5 years, and focuses on family and relationships, which he cherishes most.
The album was recorded before the pandemic, but several songs on the record speak to the feelings of isolation and gratitude that have been felt by so many over the past few months. The collection builds on McGraw’s previous sound with added atmospheric, ethereal elements, and has a key message that we are all ‘here on earth’ to take care of each other.
Opening song ‘L.A’ is a slow-tempo, starry-eyed start to the album. McGraw praises some of the defining features of L.A such as starred sidewalks and traffics, but the focus is on his lover as he sings “the thing I love most about L.A, is you“. This is a wonderful start to the record and sets a tone for a chilled, relaxing album.
Following song ‘Chevy Spaceship’ follows this theme of stars and the fantastical. Taking listeners to the sky, McGraw asks us to ‘hop in’ to a ‘Chevy spaceship’. Though the lyrics here (a solo-write by Jonny Price) are a little silly, McGraw’s delivery comes across as more charming than corny.
Californian vibes are common themes throughout the record, and really help build a calming tone in the album for listeners. ‘Not From California’ is a soft number that is a real highlight. The song is mournful and features some beautiful lyrics:
“No, I’m not from California
I’m from somewhere you ain’t anymore”
A mix of orchestral instruments and pianos give the song a strong yet lulling sound; one of the more sombre moments on the record.
The album is not short of more traditional love songs, though. The best moment of romance on the album is ‘Sheryl Crow’. Lyrically we hear McGraw compare a lover to the “first time they heard Sheryl Crow”, stating just how impactful both those things were in his life. Written by Wendell Mobley, Neil Thrasher and Laura Veltz, the song is a unique tribute to 90’s country music that fits in very well with McGraw’s bursting discography.
‘7500 OBO’ features more modern sounds than the rest of the album, with a soft drum track underpinning the entire song. It mixes things up production-wise, and blends some of the classic sounds of McGraw’s music with the new, techno-infused sound.
The sentimental ‘Gravy’ also features great production, taking a less layered approach in order to highlight a great guitar riff and vocal melody. The lyrics on this song are about family and simple joys in life, so the production really works here to show off some of the more sentimental sides of the album.
Title track ‘Here on Earth’ is the embodiment of the album’s message – focusing on the important moments in life to show that no matter where we are in the world, we have shared experiences that can connect us all.
“It’s like we open our eyes
For the very first time
When we find out why
We’re here on earth”
It is refreshing to hear Tim’s perspective on the little things in life and. Country music as a genre is one that celebrates both the ups and downs of life, and it is great to see McGraw giving such a compelling take throughout this collection.
A real highlight of the album that covers this important message is ‘I Called Mama’. The song was picked as lead single and has already received huge success on country radio, and it is easy to see why. Songwriters Marv Green, Lance Miller and Jimmy Yeary have created a classic country song that really captures the feeling of missing family and needing a chat with your Mum, a universal feeling for many.
“Wrote a song just for me
And I sung it for the blue sky
And a couple live oak trees
I thought of home, grabbed my phone from my pocket
And I called mama”
I really think that this song is a highlight of McGraw’s work over the last decade, and clearly it has been relatable to so many who were feeling lonely during pandemic quarantines. It also features a hefty amount of banjo and pedal steel, maintaining that classic feel.
‘If I Was A Cowboy’ is another more traditional moment on the record. With a lot of cowboy imagery to tell the story of someone missing their ex-lover, it is a sweet song, which when paired with some guitar solos feels like a real 70’s vintage moment for McGraw.
The album closes with ‘Doggone’, a song that details someone mourning the loss of their dog. This is a heart-breaking but beautiful, fitting end to a delicate record, which further adds to the overall message to focus on the important things in life. Be careful, it may bring a tear to the dog-lover within us all!
This is an album with a clear message to appreciate life and to love one another, which has become ever-more important in the last few months. Whilst a lengthy album, it is highly enjoyable and has some truly beautiful lyrical moments, likely to further cement McGraw’s legacy.
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