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Trial by Fire

Format: CD   Release Date: 10/27/2017
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    Track Title


  1. Trial by Fire 4:41
  2. Shadows 5:11
  3. Get Mine 4:23
  4. Son of a Gun 4:57
  5. Ride or Die 4:46
  6. Struggle Speaks (Interlude) 1:27
  7. Daylight 4:47
  8. Do for Love 4:03
  9. Punk 3:34
  10. Row Your Boat 4:15
  11. True to Yourself 5:17
  12. Sabrina 2:54
  13. Violin 4:25
  14. Keeps Me Alive 4:39

Sauntering into a smoky roadside dive with a cowboy hat, rapper Yelawolf gives his audience a reintroduction on his third album, Trial by Fire, which finds him embracing the sounds of his Southern roots. Fans of his earliest output will notice a marked difference here -- no more Killer Mikes or Raekwons -- but for fans of Love Story, Yelawolf provided enough foreshadowing on that 2015 LP that this shift shouldn't be too jarring. Continuing to mine Detroit for artistic inspiration, Yelawolf has jumped from being Lil' Eminem to Kid Rock Jr., aping the latter's calculated late-era evolution and sonic blend of country, rock, and hip-hop. However, unlike Kid Rock, Yelawolf can deliver a believable and authentic confessional, and those tracks end up being the more memorable on this album. From "Son of a Gun" to "Row Your Boat," Trial by Fire works best when Yelawolf digs deep, reflective and nostalgic for the past, unfurling his rhymes over pensive productions. The best guest appearances are provided by Joshua Hedley on the Johnny Cash-lite "Shadows"; Bones Owens -- who plays on the majority of the album -- on "True to Yourself"; country singer Lee Brice on the urgent "Violin"; and a surprise turn by Wynonna Judd on the haunting "Keeps Me Alive." On the other hand, a predictable duet with Kid Rock on "Get Mine" tries its best to create a memorable teacher-student moment but ends up sounding like the Beastie Boys with missing teeth and jugs of moonshine, while a confusing collaboration with drummer Travis Barker (blink-182), rapper Juicy J, and bassist Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) on "Punk" attempts too much while delivering too little. Yet, despite all these disparate ingredients in Yelawolf's hick-hop stew, it remains cohesive both as a reflection of his artistic ambitions and a product that is likely to please his audience. He's searching for poignancy and artistic maturity and, here and there, he manages to hit the mark on Trial by Fire. ~ Neil Z. Yeung, Rovi

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