Mid-afternoon on June 4, 2011, an electrical fire started in the garage of Trace Adkins‘ Brentwood, Tenn. home that quickly engulfed the entire house, destroying most everything in its path. Two months after the fire, Trace is releasing his tenth studio album, the poignantly titled Proud To Be Here.
“Obviously, now after the fire, Proud To Be Here takes on an even greater significance,” Trace says. “I’ve been blessed and everyone is safe. I don’t even want to think what could’ve been had it started at 3am instead of 3pm.” This outlook and reflection on what truly matters in life is a common theme throughout the album.
As Trace has demonstrated in the past on hits like “You’re Gonna Miss This,” his rich baritone is showcased through reflective lyrics and music that add to his compelling storytelling. Proud To Be Here is highlighted by insightful songs that instantly grab the listener’s attention. The first single, “Just Fishin’,” is a loose, midtempo number supported by acoustic guitars and an optimistic melody. “I say, “Daddy loves you baby,” one more time/ She says, “I know, I think I’ve got a bite,” Trace sings to recount a fishing trip with his daughter, subtly describing the quality father/daughter time and reward he receives from the experience. On the traditional-leaning “Days Like This,” dobro and acoustic guitars rock softly in ¾-time like a soothing front porch swing. “If the world’s going to hell, let it go, I’ll just blow it a kiss/ Don’t want to think about things like that on days like this,” he sings after declining the morning paper and negative TV news in favor of taking in the beauty that surrounds him.
Produced by Kenny Beard and Mark Wright, Trace gets his funk on with some wah-guitar and B-3 organ on the fun, tongue-in-cheek “It’s A Woman Thing” (written by Nashville hit writers Craig Wiseman and Jim Collins). “Maybe I should watch some Oprah, bubble bath, sit on the sofa,” Trace sings about getting in touch with his feminine side in an attempt to understand the opposite sex. And while the standard issue of Proud To Be Here contains ten songs, a hilarious, good-natured southern rock shuffle with Blake Shelton called “If I Were A Woman” highlights the 14-track Deluxe Edition. Over bluesy distorted guitars and a horn section, Trace and Blake go back and forth with lines about the kind of man they’d love if they were a woman. Here’s a hint – it would most certainly be them. “I’d love me a man who could love me all night long,” Trace sings before Blake lets go with, “Well, I’d love me a man who had the guts to sing this song.” The song is incredibly funny, and yet also a brave showing that illustrates the confidence of Trace as an artist.
Proud To Be Here is classic Trace. Taking time to honor America’s servicemen with the Deluxe Edition’s Marine Corps salute “Semper Fi,” and on the Patriotic “Always Gonna Be That Way,” Trace gives further reason that even when things go up in flames, what truly matters and where we gain strength is not manmade, but received through the relationships and bonds we build with others.