Reviews of new pop music releases

November 17, 2014 4:45 PM

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Considering that Garth Brooks has had 13 years to work on it - his last album, Scarecrow, came out in 2001 - his Man Against Machine contains some astonishing clunkers. Start that list with the overblown title track, which casts the 52-year-old mega-selling country pop star as a hammer-swinging John Henry of the digital age. Include the super- saccharine "Mom" and the unabashedly corny anthem "People Loving People," which, Brooks assures us, is the only solution for "everything that's evil." But is the entirety of the 14-track Man Against Machine as bad as all that? Hardly.

As far as the state of mainstream country music goes, the crossover-minded Oklahoman has a lot to answer for. His taste for booming drums, screaming guitars, and grand arena-rock gestures provided the blueprint for the current generation of broad-stroke bro-country acts. And when you hold Brooks up ...

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