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Kid Rock: First Kiss

Reformed party-rock outlaw finds his inner Bryan Adams.

Once the emperor of knowingly tasteless redneck rap-rock, Robert James Ritchie has seen sales slide dramatically since his commercial peak around the millennium. More recently, the Detroit-born badass cleaned up his act and embraced a heartland country-rock sound with a Southern twang, notably on his 2010 album Born Free.

Even more anodyne in style, First Kiss contains soft-rock strummers about loving Jesus and Hank Williams, listening to Tom Petty and drinking beers on the back porch with your dad.

Playing to the flag-waving, gun-owning, Republican-voting gallery is no crime, of course, if only Rock sounded like he was speaking from the heart, rather than cynically adopting a folksy good-ole-boy persona to court a target audience. The corny love ballad Johnny Cash is yet another of his thinly disguised rewrites of Sweet Home Alabama, while decaffeinated country-blues party-rockers like Good Times Lookin’ For Me could be Bryan Adams B-sides.

Admittedly, a pleasing hangover from Rock’s more retro soulful work cuts through the lyrical clichés of Best Of Me, while bonus track Fuck Off And Die offers a rare hint of spite amid the laid-back mellowness. But seriously, does anybody really need a tasteful Kid Rock album?/o:p

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.