Prime Cuts: God Bless the USA (with Lee Greenwood and the US Air Force), Travelin' Soldier, Undivided
Overall Grade: 5/5
Spurred by the prolonged isolated caused by the pandemic, the tragic debacle at the Capital earlier this year, and the racial injustice surrounding the death of George Floyd, Home Free have decided to cut a collection of songs to bring the nation together. Though "Home of the Free" may be marketed as a patriotic album, it's not a jingoistic flag-wavering affair. Rather, what you have here are songs that deal with faith, survival, hope, and what it means to be God-fearing Americans. One of the factors that has awarded this record its high grading is the choice of the songs. From covers from the Chicks to Dire Straits to Bruce Springsteen to Lee Greenwood to Brooks and Dunn to Don Mclean, the song choices may look eclectic. But the pentad has made each of these entries their own with their gorgeous harmonies and creative interpretations.
Instead of imitating Bruce Springsteen's gruff and macho take of his signature hit "Born in the USA," Home Free has given this classic a breezy Eagles-esque country take that is simply addictive. Then instead of competing with Lee Greenwood, Greenwood gets to sing lead on "God Bless the USA" with the boys augmenting with their layered vocals. Don't miss the boys' take of Dire Straits' "Brothers in Arms." Instead of copying Mark Knopfler's smoky and languid take, Home Free has opted for an acapella version showcasing the various vocal shades of friendship and sacrifice.
For an album that seeks to bring together a fractured society, Tim McGraw and Tyler Hubbard's "Undivided" is such fitting song. Calling for more love and grace in our dealings with each other, this song deserves to be reprised. The Chicks' final #1 country song "Travelin' Soldier" unfolds like a mini movie about a young American soldier's correspondence with a high school girl during the Vietnam War era. The song chronicles their relationship from the flash of a smile to the death of the soldier which the girl learns about after a football game when a list of the names of the soldiers who had just died are announced. This is heart-wrenching stuff at its best.
Don't let the label "patriotic album" put you off from this gem of a record. This album contains songs that are steeped in the stories of life. But behind these stories are also valuable lessons about love, friendship, brotherhood, sacrifices, and faith that are worth hearing again and again.