Fresh from a successful metrosexual operation is Uncle Kracker, Kid Rock’s filial bro whose career ambition has gone from trailing Mr. Rock to the bottom of a tallboy to courting wannabe with-it country-radio PD’s like a door-to-door vacuum salesman. The place where grown men behave like boys pretending to be grown men, the Triple-A universe of stations that go by handles like the River and the Wolf encourages knee-slapping—not Cristal-soaked oblivion, not blood-stained repose, just G-rated good timin’ (in leather now, not denim). Tatt-covered and resplendent in his new sartorial slickery, Uncle Kracker is about as avuncular as Auntie Mame. And about as gloomy.
Storm clouds ain’t got nothing on K. Diddy’s delirium. Midnight Special? Try the early bird, Seventy-Two & Sunny. Confused rock and r&b conceits wander into onrushing 16-wheelers of c&w—barbershop quartet-ish background vox, crisp git-fiddle plucks, lyrics equal parts syrup and cheer. The tightrope he’s walking is dental floss, but he still leans into every note. Even “Rescue”—a plea to be hit one more time, baby, penned by Grammy-winning linguine noodle Diane Warren—is, albeit corny, a serious prom song. The singer’s earnestness and resistance to anything but gives him freedom. Freedom to kick out the jammies (the nocturnes “Don’t Know How [Not to Love You]” and “Some Things You Can’t Take Back”). Freedom to slide into fuzzy little rock numbers (“This Time,” “Writing It Down”). Freedom to fax it in on vellum (“Last Night Again,” “Further Down the Road”). It’s as if Auntie Kracker is leading a parade of three down the aisles of a Virgin Megastore, high-stepping and pumping the air with a chicken leg, waiting for us to acknowledge just how groundbreaking Seventy-Two & Sunny is. But hey—at least he’s leading.