Set This Circus Down
After leaving his woman, a guy realizes independence can’t compare to the love he took for granted ("You Get Used to Somebody"). "Angel Boy" is about a sinful man seeking spiritual redemption. The artist refuses to measure himself by the media’s standards on "Smilin’" ("Just another fantasy for sale/Telling me what I need, what I should do, who I should be/That stuff don’t matter to me at all"). The couple on "Set This Circus Down" clings to a homesteader’s dream of settling down. "Grown Men Don’t Cry" gets misty-eyed about homelessness, absentee fathers and the love of a child. Other songs seek romantic reconciliation ("Why We Said Goodbye") and marvel at the power of unconditional acceptance ("The Cowboy in Me").
"Telluride" recalls a winter spent tending bar and making love. Hurting from a breakup, a guy hopes that a few beers and a little blue pill will help him "Forget About Us." A father of four justifies walking out because of a change in his wife’s disposition ("Angry All the Time").
The reigning king of country music is at his best when pondering priorities with a masculine vulnerability. He’s moved by poverty. He resists trendiness. He recognizes spiritual hunger. All terrific messages. However, emotions sometimes get the better of him, prompting moral choices teens shouldn’t emulate. Apart from those few cuts, Set This Circus Down pitches its tent on solid ground.