While Tim McGraw has hinted at a more rootsy, aggressive approach for his seventh Curb album, Set This Circus Down is largely populated with the type of slick, radio-friendly material that made him a

While Tim McGraw has hinted at a more rootsy, aggressive approach for his seventh Curb album, Set This Circus Down is largely populated with the type of slick, radio-friendly material that made him a country superstar. McGraw can ride non-threatening, lightweight material, such as the overwrought "The Cowboy in Me" and ultra-contemporary "Telluride" to the top of the charts without breaking a sweat, and the reflective, midtempo title cut is a perfect match for both his life and abilities. But when McGraw takes chances, he soars. Highlighted by spirited production and nifty chord changes, "Angel Boy" examines spirituality, and McGraw's hangdog delivery on the rootsy "Forget About Us," while certainly derivative of Bruce Springsteen, is nevertheless effective. "Let Me Love You" smolders, propelled by a sturdy guitar workout. But the record's peak is on the Bruce Robison-penned "Angry All the Time" (with harmony vocals by Faith Hill ), on which McGraw showcases some of his finest skills as an interpreter to date. It's on this stellar cut that he earns his superstar stripes.—RW

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