Peso In My Pocket

Peso In My Pocket

Toby Keith returns from his longest-ever hiatus from recorded music with the follow-up to 2015’s 35 mph Town. The 10-track collection, which Keith began working on during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, is in many ways a return to form for the country veteran, leaning heavily into the classic, traditionally informed sound of much of his early catalog while still nodding, if subtly, to modern trends. Opener “Oklahoma Breakdown,” written by fellow Okie Mike Hosty and first made famous by Stoney LaRue, pairs a groovy walking bassline and crunchy electric guitar with subtle electronic flourishes. Single “Old School,” with its percussive verse melody and anthemic chorus, is Southern rock refracted through the sound of popular country radio (accordingly, it’s one of Keith’s higher-charting recent singles), while its lyrics nod to Keith’s knack for evoking nostalgia. And the album closes with “Happy Birthday America,” a song that rejects the patriotic bravado of earlier Keith tunes in favor of a despairing take on a divided nation. Other highlights include a cover of the John Prine deep cut “Take a Look at My Heart” and Keith’s take on Keb’ Mo’s “Old Me Better.” “I hope that the album comes across as original and authentic,” Keith tells Apple Music. “I hope it's just classic me.” Below, Keith walks Apple Music through several key tracks on Peso in My Pocket. “Oklahoma Breakdown” “The dude who wrote it lives in my hometown and he's kind of a one-man band—name's Mike Hosty. He just brings a little contraption of stuff and a slide guitar. And he writes a lot of songs about local flavor. I always wanted to cut it, but my songs that I wrote were always getting in the way. Well, this album, I didn't have a year to prepare. It was like, we're coming out of COVID, I didn't know if we were going to tour, but when we do tour, I want to have an album going. So I wrote six or eight songs and then I thought, ‘You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to go ahead and cut “Oklahoma Breakdown.” I always wanted to do it. I'm going to do it now, because if this album goes off as a success, then I'll do it my way again.’” “Old School” “I don't usually take much outside stuff, but I knew in the short period of time I had that I was going to have to have some to hit my deadline. Our mentality going into it was that we may have some new tones and some new sounds, or whatever technology has brought into the mix. But other than that, we just kept it as authentic as we could. And ‘Old School’ is perfect for that. So everybody agreed, since that's what we're doing, let's just go with this single first and see what's out there.” “Old Me Better” “Three or four years ago, just straight out of the blue, my office gets an email from Robert K. Oermann. And he says, ‘Hey, driving down the road listening to this Keb' Mo'. And I heard this song come on and the second I heard it I instantly thought of Toby.’ And so I listened to it and the only word I could put on it was ‘groovy.’ It was just the percussion, the racket going on, it just sounded like somebody playing trash cans and bottles. And the lyric's comical and it's true. It's kind of like, ‘You've got me. Here I am walking around wearing this stupid sweater. Truth be told, I've got to say I like the old me better. I appreciate all the work you put in, but this sucks, you know what I mean?’” “Thunderbird” “Didn't have anything to do in COVID, the pandemic, so you'd just get on your boat sometimes and I'd be fishing or tooling around. And on weekends or holidays you'd pull into these big coves and there might be 300 boats tied up to each other. People jumping in the water, going boat to boat, grilling. You can smell weed. We've got this little old lake by my house in Norman called Thunderbird. And it's just a little old muddy lake, basically, I guess just to handle floodwater. So I thought, ‘I'm just going to write it about Thunderbird and make it a little bit more redneck.’ I can picture them playing an acoustic guitar sitting around a fire or whatever. And so it was like, ‘Bring along a lot of ice and beer and booze, and a jug of something stronger for the evening news,’ because everybody's going to come back in and tell the story of the day, what went on. And so let's have a jug of something stronger than just beer or wine coolers or margaritas. Let's hit some juice. Let's get some whiskey.” “Happy Birthday America” “During that summer [of 2020], this country was under so much turmoil. The Trump thing was going crazy. The rallies both ways were out of control. The civil unrest was not good. The cities were burning. It was just a really bad time. And it was just so disappointing to see the greatest country in the world get that wrecked. It just makes you sick to your stomach. It just hurts your soul. It hurts everything. It's just like, ‘This is broken.’ So when I started writing the song, I was like, ‘If I was going to sing a song and tell America happy birthday, I'd say, ‘Happy Birthday, America/You're the best that's ever been.’ There have been times when we've had to come in and lose a lot of our citizens, sons, brothers, dads, fathers, to go make sure that we got this war shut down before it came on our own soil. And I say in there, ‘You were their darlings when you saved the world, and now your own children want to turn you into something else other than yourself.’”

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