Rebel Soul


On his ninth studio album, Kid Rock lightens up. He’s never exactly been a brooding singer-songwriter, but after stepping up his game with 2010’s Rick Rubin-produced Born Free and dabbling in politics during last year’s Mitt Romney campaign, he seems ready to fling off the fedora and let his hair down. He leads listeners right into the party with “Chickens in the Pen,” a solid Southern rock foot-stomper. He’s never been wedded to any format, and on “Detroit, Michigan,” he jumps from the South to the home of Motown soul, name-checking some of the Motor City’s favorite sons, like Bob Seger, Eminem and George Clinton. From there, he’s off and running, paying homage to country music on such rockers as the title track and “Happy New Year.” Rock has plenty of songs filled with blazing guitars, throbbing drums, soaring vocals and lyrics about booze, ladies and high jinks. At times, he lets his serious side show, but these days, he’s having a lot more fun. –Nancy Dunham

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