Alanna Nash
May 16, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Honkytonk University

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Toby Keith
genre
Country

We gave it an A-

Toby Keith’s 13th album, Honkytonk University, wisely forgoes the rambunctious flag-waving of recent years to look deeper at the events and sounds that informed his Oklahoma childhood. The title track, set to a ragged Waylon Jennings beat, recalls his career education as a boy in his grandma’s nightclub. Throw in some perfect heartbreak ballads and the charming loser duet ”She Ain’t Hooked on Me No More,” performed with Merle Haggard, and you’ve got a solid old-school effort with a Ph.D. in pain.

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