Kix Brooks is back, and sounding great as ever. The man behind one half of country music legend Brooks & Dunn has released his first solo effort since he and Ronnie Dunn retired their joint act in 2010.
“New To This Town” is catchy, slightly melancholic tale about trying to move on after a break-up but constantly running into your ex and mutual acquaintances.
More than that, though, it’s about living in a small, everybody-knows-everybody town. Right from the opening chords, this song evokes small-town life. You get a sense that nothing much changes, even as life moves on. From the singer’s familiarity with diner waitress Becky to the corner bar where someone always asks “how you are, and how you’re doing, and how you’ve been, and I’ve gotta go through it all again”, Brooks tells a story familiar to anyone who’s lived there. For a man trying to move on, it’s impossible to get away from that past.
The star also presents the song as a metaphor for his career. As he tells The Boot, “I liked the idea of ‘I wished I was new to this town’ because it’s sort of a metaphor when you’ve been here for so long and you’re trying to start over.” Whether it’s country music fame or the kind of small-town fame that Miranda Lambert sings about, it can be hard to get a clean slate with so much history.
Brooks goes on, “I thought, ‘That is me in a way, because there’s no way that I can, at this point in my career, pull some kind of cloak and dagger unless I change my name and go have some major plastic surgery or something.’ It’s me and people know me … I’ve been blessed with a great career. So hopefully I’ll get a fresh start.”
That shouldn’t be a problem for the 14-time CMA Vocal Duo of the Year award winner. Yes, there’s a lot of history to contend with, as part of one of the most celebrated country music acts ever. But it’s a new sound without Ronnie Dunn, and Kix Brooks sounds great on his own.
Brooks co-wrote the song with Nashville regular Marv Green and longtime collaborator Terry McBride (who also contributed to Ronnie Dunn’s debut solo album). Eagles legend Joe Walsh also added a few signature guitar riffs at the last minute, which really give the song some extra flair through the bridge and on the outro. Country music fans will be immediately comfortable listening to Kix Brooks’ vocals, while Walsh’s admittedly limited guitar work will have you listening over and over.
“New To This Town” is, if not a completely fresh start, a fitting rebirth for one of country music’s all-time greatest stars. Keep an ear out for more from his first solo album in two decades.
“New To This Town” is out at radio now.