Simplicity was always the best policy for '80s hair bands ("Nothing But a Good Time" by Poison comes to mind), and most pop country musicians follow the same philosophy. Rodney Atkins plays what passes for country these days—pop rock with fiddle and banjo set to lyrics covering God, America and Chevy trucks. On It's America, he also indulges in what I call suburban country, in which he sings about being a dad.
Outlaw country, it's not.
Still, it's easy to get wrapped up in the simple details if you had a rural childhood. In "Best Things," Atkins sings about football, hunting and fishing. In "Got It Good" he savors the birds, grass and rain. In "Chasin' Girls" we get to reminisce about water gun fights and Dairy Queen on hot summer days. Like many Montanans, he doesn't like Hollywood types.
Atkins can sing, and his smoky vocals occasionally hit rumbling lows as impressive as Kenny Rogers in "The Gambler." His evasion of other ubiquitously pop country themes that whine about hard-to-get women or the confines of marriage is commendable. And while "Rockin' of the Cradle" acknowledges death
in a gritty fashion, the other songs—cheesy and innocuous—never rock the boat.
Rodney Atkins plays the Wilma Theatre Sunday, Sept. 13, at 8 PM. $29.75.