Ropin' the Wind (1991) Uh-oh-sounds like ol' Garth is starting to believe his hype. Brooks commences his third album, Ropin' the Wind , with the vainglorious "Against the Grain":… Garth Brooks Country
Music Review

Ropin' the Wind (1991)


Details Lead Performance: Garth Brooks; Genre: Country

Uh-oh-sounds like ol' Garth is starting to believe his hype. Brooks commences his third album, Ropin' the Wind, with the vainglorious ''Against the Grain'': ''Folks call me a maverick I ain't no hypocrite/What you see is what you get...'' ''Get'' is pronounced ''git'' to rhyme with ''hypocrite,'' and what we git is a carefully crafted but disturbingly self-satisfied record from the most popular performer in current country music.

On his first two albums, Brooks was a passionate performer, a sensitive tough guy who strove to understand the emotions of the women in his songs. But on Ropin' the Wind, Brooks' music has turned sour, his persona self-centered. In ''Burning Bridges,'' he's a heel who talks to his lover about ''where we'd settle down''; early the next morning, though, he skips town. In ''Rodeo,'' his true love ''ain't no woman, flesh and blood/It's that damned old rodeo,'' while on ''Cold Shoulder,'' ''this old highway is the mistress that keeps me from the one I love.'' Over and over, songs describe a moody character who'll use any excuse to avoid a commitment.

All of this would be interesting — the daydreams of a country star whose big hat has become too small for his bigger head — if the music surrounding these lyrics were compelling, as aggressive as Brooks' verbal sentiments. But most of the time the melodies on Ropin' are wispy-mere country-tinged, easy-listening pop tunes — supported by the blandest sort of instrumental accompaniment. Time after time, the vague music fades into the background of a song, pushing Brooks' words and voice forward in an awkward imbalance.

His best performances here — ''What She's Doing Now,'' ''The River,'' and Billy Joel's ''Shameless'' — showcase Brooks' greatest strength: his ability to imbue baleful country ballads with complex, soulful emotions. But Ropin' the Wind, no consumer bargain with just a little more than half an hour of music on it, is a portrait of one morose, self-conscious cowpoke. Loosen up, Garth. C+

Originally posted Sep 27, 1991 Published in issue #85 Sep 27, 1991 Order article reprints