Like most mainstream country stars, Oklahoma crooner Toby Keith is a cuddly family man whose rock-and-roll heart co-exists happily with his weakness for schmaltz. Those two sides come together on his current smash, "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)," which is both rough-and-tumble pro-war anthem and tender elegy for his late Army-vet father. "Weíll put a boot in your ass/Itís the American way" is a lyric that was bound to emerge from the heartland at some point, and Keithís easygoing boogie is its most logical accompaniment.
This is his seventh album, and Keith continues to strike a nice balance between country rock and ballads ó he even throws a little salsa into the mix on the discís hottest party tune, "Good To Go to Mexico." He and duet partner Willie Nelson sidle up to the bar on "Beer for My Horses," which stands up for justice with a jovial, harmony-drenched chorus; and he teams with cowboy troubadour Chris LeDoux on "Rodeo Moon," a steel-guitar-driven road lament thatís equal parts desperation and hope. Keith trips over a couple of flaccid pop choruses along the way, but this charttopping country boy knows his roots.
(Toby Keith performs this Sunday, September 1, at the Tweeter Center in Mansfield. Call 508-339-2331.)