wed 30/09/2020

CD: Billy Ray Cyrus - I'm American | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Billy Ray Cyrus - I'm American

CD: Billy Ray Cyrus - I'm American

Hannah Montana's dad starts off ok, but soon starts to parody himself

His daughter may be Hannah Montana and he may have set country music sales records but, worldwide, Billy Ray Cyrus will never escape his mega-hit “Achy Breaky Heart”. Although that was a novelty record, it epitomised everything people find preposterous about America’s red states. Which is why, outside of America’s heartlands, most people find it difficult to take Cyrus seriously. It's something he finds very frustrating. 

I’m American is Cyrus’s “patriot” album. It’s all about troops and home and stars and stripes. It’s full girls left behind, and parents’ war records. Just the sort of record you can imagine pouring out of Sarah Palin’s 4x4 as she thunders across the tundra to kill a moose. Thankfully, though, there are redeeming musical qualities. In places, I’m American reveals Cyrus to be a surprisingly able composer. There are moments where he skilfully borrows the sound that John Cougar Mellancamp uses to subvert the American dream. But, of course, Cyrus, isn’t subverting anything.

Still, despite the mawkish patriotism – worst offenders being the collaborations, “Stars and Stripes” and “Some Gave All” – the record’s highlights have a strange, ironic charm. We’ve all grown up on American movies, and “Runway Lights” and “We Fought Hard” evoke life on the road. “Old Army Hat”, made me think, momentarily, of Kris Kristofferson. The title track, though, was just like spoof movie Team America’s “America, F**k Yeah”. Just for real.

Watch Billy Ray perform “Achy Breaky Heart” at conservative talk-show host Sean Hannity’s Freedom Concert

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