Billy Ray Cyrus, of “Achy Breaky Heart” and Hannah Montana fame is back. And he’s got a story to tell. His new album Change My Mind featuring a lead–off single of the same name will be out October 23rd. The single “Change My Mind” promises big things for the album as a whole. It is blistering with energy and a fusion of tyles – “a little piece of every style of music I love,” as Billy Ray said. Hard rock, pop, outlaw country, tinges of Zydeco, and Gospel all meet in a kind of melting pot.The song calls to mind a toughened amped-up sentiment in keeping with Billy Ray Cyrus’ earliest work on Some Gave All, and could bode a return to his first album’s high-energy, in-your-face pieces such as “the Words by Heart” or previous album Home at Last strong track “The Buffalo.”
However, this lead track “Change My Mind,” surprisingly with such a blend of styles, is not amazingly original. It has layered, chorus vocals throughout, a common feature of similar songs, and has a “woo-hoo-hoo” refrain that seems like something out of a song like “It’s All Been Done” by the Barenaked Ladies and doesn’t do much to help the piece. Also it starts with a coordinated drum kick that seems to be trying to hard to get the listener into the song. Billy Ray has a very strong voice and persona and he doesn’t need these kind of frills to get the audience to listen up, in my view.
Three-quarters of the way through the song the guitars open up to full throttle and the vocals reach their peak. Fans who want to get an early listen can download the single from iTunes or pre–order the album Change My Mind on Amazon. Also be sure to check out the music video.
That said, I am really looking forward to the album Change My Mind. It features in demand musicians such as drummer Kenny Aranoff, bassist Dusty Wakeman, and guitarists Leroy Powell, John West, Dominic Cifarelli, and Nelson Blanton. It also has great fiddler Luke Price on board and banjo virtuoso Tony Furtado. And with strong producer Brandon Friesen at the helm, it promises to be quite the ride. The album will be a return to Billy Ray’s roots in Southern rock, Gospel and bluegrass: three of my favourite genres. As Billy Ray says, “That music is in my blood, and that’s what I wanted to capture on this new album Change My Mind.” Billy Ray Cyrus has been through a hard time in the last few years, with the problems in his marriage and the press’ relentless attacks on him for wanting to be a good dad who sticks to his values. These hard times have brought him really close to his true center as an artist and given him a strong voice to carry into the future. This is a guy who knows what country is, because it’s how he grew up and how he relates to the world. As Billy Ray said himself in an interview, Change My Mind is “a record with 100 percent creative control: no rules, no limits, and without trying to fit anyone’s preconceived notions.That in itself was sweet. It’s the reason I started a band all those years ago, because I thought music was supposed to be an artistic and true reflection of who you are.”
Previous albums by Billy, Home at Last and Back to Tennessee were musically-engaging, high-quality albums, particularly on such compelling songs such as “Stand” and “Ready, Set, Don’t Go” – a duet with daughter Miley.
Change My Mind is out October 23rd from Blue Cadillac Music.
Single rating: 7/10 stars. Album anticipation: high.