Billy Ray Cyrus

Change My Mind

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Ever since his daughter Miley became a superstar in the late aughts, Billy Ray Cyrus has been doggedly working at a comeback, attempting album after album, none of them quite the right showcase for his unassuming charms. Unexpectedly, 2012's Change My Mind -- the sequel to his toothlessly jingoistic but nonetheless amiable 2011 set I'm American -- finds the right groove, one that's not too slick, not too loose, one that showcases Cyrus' everyman skills to an appealing effect. A shade rougher and rowdier than anything he's ever recorded -- he goes so far to sing a cheerfully profane chorus on the closing "Stomp" -- Change My Mind succeeds largely because Billy Ray allows himself to lay back and rock out, lets himself revel in the noise he's making. Unlike any of the records he's cut since 2006's Wanna Be Your Joe, there are no attempts at a slick crossover pop hit (although the excellent, propulsive, hooky "Good as Gone" could have been an AM pop hit in another time): there are blues stomps, raunchy guitar riffs, and ballads dressed in dobros. Cyrus remains more of a showman than a down-home country boy -- something the mawkish "That's What Daddys Do" makes clear -- but Change My Mind strikes precisely the right blend of grit and glitz, a record that's clean and mean but still kicks. Having Cyrus sound so comfortable in his skin at such a late stage is a bit unexpected, but Change My Mind benefits from his veteran skills; he never pushes too hard, he just settles back into the songs and he winds up with one of his best albums yet.

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