As if working to craft a response to the open ended title, Trace Adkins reaches deep on his 11th studio album to explore life’s most passionate emotion. Love Will…, due in stores May 14, captures scenes and feelings as different as desperation and security over the course of 11 songs looking to offer some insight on a very complicated subject.
Stretching out to incorporate new sounds, Trace worked with five different producers on the project, including Frank Rogers (Josh Turner, Darius Rucker) and Mark Wright (producer of Trace’s 2011 album Proud To Be Here). The result is a varied collection that sounds fresh at each new turn while still concentrating on one theme. The bluesy, “So What If I Do” flashes darker shades over B-3 keys and a bass-driven rhythm section as Trace pushes himself to express inescapable feelings. The slicing guitars and rising melodies of “Right Now” hint at the dynamic approach of Lady Antebellum while the fireplace-ready “Come See Me” shows off the upper reaches of Trace’s voice in a pristine, fluid chorus. There’s a modern edge to these songs, but it’s done subtly and offers a new element to Trace’s deep baritone and traditional roots.
Songs like the truck stop drama, “When I Stop Loving You,” and the acoustic based ballad, “If The Sun Comes Up” carry a more traditional sound that fans will recognize. The former is a deceptively easygoing tune about a marriage proposal that seems on the verge of going very bad. Though the chorus is smart and engaging, Trace sets the scene by first describing “a lovesick, desperate man” to build the drama. The heartfelt “If The Sun Comes Up” was included on last year’s Act of Valor Soundtrack. Surrounded here by love songs, however, seemingly gives voice to a completely different set of characters to reaffirm those universal feelings.
While the album generally keeps its PG-rating on songs like “Say No To A Woman” and the standout cut “Every One of You,” Trace does take opportunities to show off his more seductive side. “The Altar Of Your Love” is a hard country, electric rocker barely held back by palm-muted power chords. On the country disco “Kiss You All Over,” Trace is joined by Exile (who had a No. 1 hit with the song in 1978) for one of the album’s biggest highlights. Harmonies flow and keyboards rejoice as they sing, I want to kiss you all over/and over again, on a song that really needs to be heard on dance floors this summer.
Grammy winning pop singer Colbie Caillat joins in for the melodrama of “Watch the World End,” and the Harlem Gospel Chorus helps out on the uplifting Southern Gospel title track. Trace has always had fantastic range, but Love Will… features many dynamic performances where simple inflections and nuances add whole new dimensions. An emotion as rich and complicated as love can certainly mean something different from one person to the next, but on Love Will…, Trace succeeds in giving listeners an insightful and personal look at what it means to him.
Key Tracks – “Love Will,” “Kiss You All Over,” “Every One Of You,” “If The Sun Comes Up”