Album Review | rock

Kid Rock, ‘First Kiss’

John Davisson/Invision/AP

If you made a list of all things that Kid Rock likes and dislikes you’d have a pretty good summation of his 10th album, “First Kiss.”

In the pro column: Reminiscing, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Jr., Keith Whitley, Jesus, whiskey, beer, and bourbon. Among the cons: Coldplay, skinny jeans, Coachella, hipsters, social media, gun legislation, politicians, and young people who don’t know right from wrong.

Self-produced and recorded in Nashville with Austin rockers Band of Heathens, “First Kiss” picks up where 2012’s “Rebel Soul” left off, with Rock continuing to mix classic rock, country, pop, and, to a far lesser extent, hip-hop to craft odes to parties and the good old days, as well as to parties in the good old days.


The album, much of it co-written with Rock guitarist Marlon Young, kicks off with the title track, a catchy slice of ’80s power pop in the Bryan Adams “Summer of ’69” mold. Rock recalls cruising with his first crush, windows down, Petty cranked up and “no money, just time to spend” in what should be a successful bid for summer barbecue play.

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He switches to Skynyrd shuffle mode for “Good Times, Cheap Wine” and makes the self-evident declaration that “you can try to change me or love me just the way I am.”

Elsewhere in the liquor aisle, he feeds his Aerosmith jones with “Ain’t Enough Whiskey” and gets sentimental thinking about “Drinking Beer With Dad,” both self-aware, “get off my lawn!” grumpfests about the world going to hell.

He continues his lean toward country on several tracks including the midtempo bopper “Good Times Lookin’ for Me,” the organ-drenched “Jesus and Bocephus,” and the rootsy ode to true love “Johnny Cash.”

As he did on “Rebel Soul,” Rock, who has always understood the limits of his vocal abilities, surrounds himself with a first-rate backing vocal crew. They include Nashville session singer extraordinaire Russell Terrell and Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band trio of vocal angels Laura Creamer, Shaun Murphy, and Barbara Payton who all provide rich harmonies, soulful color, and vocal heft.


Speaking of Seger, Rock’s spirit animal co-wrote the legitimately lovely, string-assisted closing piano ballad “Say Goodbye” in which Rock sings with melancholy resignation of pulling the plug on a long-term relationship. An “explicit” version bonus track “FOAD” is the exact same song but instead of sweetly wistful it is a bitterly angry but surprisingly pleasant — and cheekily comic — kiss off. (Out Tuesday)


ESSENTIAL “Say Goodbye”

Kid Rock plays the Xfinity Center June 25 with Foreigner and Tesla.