Kid Rock, singing 8 songs into his new album, First Kiss, and with two more to go, promises me that he’ll play just one more song. I am both relieved and appalled. The LP opens with the lead single, the eponymous First Kiss; and while this is probably the best song of the album, it is so filled with insincerity and Country Rock cliché that it might well have been phoned in from the cigarette stained, booze soaked, girlfriend draped tailgate of his first rusted-out truck; a Chevy of course. The joke is that this exact scenario appears in just the second verse.
Kid Rock isn’t a bad singer, he isn’t a bad musician, and he certainly isn’t bad at writing songs that millions of people will go out and buy. The problem is that Kid Rock knows this and First Kiss is simply song after song of regurgitated Country on autopilot. He references, off the top of my head: Jesus, Jim Beam bourbon, moonshine, Hank Williams Jnr, Johnny Cash, Kentucky, Tennessee, gun rights, and those ‘monkeys in suits writing laws and rules’ up in Washington; or in fact down, as Kid Rock was born and lives in Detroit. Probably his worst offence is the tired and turgid moralistic bore of a song, Drinking Beer With Dad, where a good old fashioned drinking session, young man, is enough to sort out the atrocious lack of God in schools and gun toting youths of a, ‘world heading down the drain’.
The only tune that gets anywhere near escape trajectory from the formulaic rock by numbers template is the last, FOAD ‘Fuck Off And Die’. An action that he tells the object of the song to do repeatedly as he is accompanied by a beautiful choral echo constantly repeating the phrase ‘fuck off and die’ until the heaven-sent end of the song. This is heartland rock that needs a coronary bypass and fast.
Starting out as rapper and hip-hop artist in the early 90s, Kid Rock has built his later career by selling millions of records consisting of broad and simple Country Rock and I’m sure First Kiss will continue in that trend; its obvious unoriginality and cliché probably helping more than a bit along the way. So while perhaps it’s unfair to suggest that Kid Rock mess with his obviously winning formula, Country is a genre rooted in heartfelt storytelling and maybe he should bear this in mind before he produces another album as inane and insincere as this one.