Realizing that he lacked perspective as a teenager ("At 17 it's hard to see past Friday night"), Paisley uses hindsight to offer his adolescent self wisdom in a "Letter to Me." He's surprised by life's pleasures and mysteries ("It Did," "Oh Love") and croons the spiritual classic "When We All Get to Heaven." A guy sees his family as the ultimate prize resulting from a teenage quest for wheels on "All I Wanted Was a Car." Unfortunately ...
His fond memories of the vehicle include breaking the speed limit and sex in the backseat. After ogling a sexy girl in a bar, a randy guy suggests they slip into the woods so he can crawl all over her, then check her for "Ticks." A reckless lover urges his girl not to be "just like our parents, responsible and bland/No risk, no excitement/Hey, let's get it while we can" ("Some Mistakes"). An ideal boys' night needs hot women and a keg ("Better Than This"). Mild profanities mar a handful of songs. Even worthwhile statements about how men and women see things differently ("I'm Still a Guy") and the potential for phoniness in Internet chat rooms ("Online") throw in prickly lines. Winks at Playboy and Skoal stain "Letter to Me." A gospel number follows a litany of vices brushed off as no big deal ("Bigger Fish to Fry"). A man tells off-color jokes on a bonus track.
5th Gear is a morally inconsistent effort that grinds gears by yoking sex, profanity and booze with Jesus and hugging Aunt Rita. Just when it gets good, it goes bad.