Artist: Billy Ray Cyrus
Produced by: Buena Vista Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When I received IĎm American, I let out a huge groan. I havenít liked Billy Ray Cyrusí brand of country since his Achy Breaky Heart days and although he has sold more than 25 million albums worldwide, had three number one singles and has appeared in his own television series as well as a few movies and his daughterís hit series, Hannah Montana, I always thought that his daughter, Miley Cyrus, was the more talented one in the family. But, as someone wise once told me, you canít judge a book by itís cover. I suppose that holds true for country western singers and their new albums.
Iím American features eight tracks of songs inspired by Billy Ray Cyrusí 2009 USO tour during which he performed for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The entire album is dedicated to the soldiers who served in the past, today and in the future. The first song, Runway Lights is about a Navy pilot with ďa job to doĒ who canít wait to get home to his family as soon as itís all over. We Fought Hard is about two young brothers who fought hard as kids, fought hard as teenagers, then joined the military and fought hard as men. The brothers come home together, one alive and the other to be laid to rest.
Keep the Light On is about a soldier who plans on coming home to his family and friends and expects one hearty homecoming when he does. Stripes and Stars, featuring Amy Grant, is about a young soldier who feels lonely away from his wife and child until he sees the American flag and realizes all that it means to him. Iím American is a rocking patriotic song revealing the pride Cyrus feels in being American.
Old Army Hat is about a young man whose grandfather fought in World War II, was one of very few survivors in his platoon, came home and packed everything away except his old Army hat. Wearing that hat despite the laughter and the teasing, the old man wore that Army hat proud for all of his buddies who made the ultimate sacrifice in that war. Years later, he would venture with his grandson to the WWII monument in Washington, D.C. There he would meet a young man who lost his father in a war and that old man would give that hat to this boy for the sacrifice his father made for his country. Nineteen is a heartbreaking tale about a high school football star who joined the Marines after September 11, 2001 and lost his life in a heroic act at the age of nineteen.
Some Gave All is an older Billy Ray Cyrus song featured on the 1992 debut album for Billy Ray Cyrus (which coincidentally featured that hated Achy Breaky Heart song). The song also features Jamey Johnson, Craig Morgan and Darrel Worley and tells the tale of a man named Sandy Cane who fought in a war and told a young boy the secret to the reasons for Americanís freedoms: ďAll gave some, some gave all / Some stood through for the red, white and blue / And some had to fall / If you ever think of me / Think of all your liberties / And recall, oh yeah recall, some gave all.Ē
I never thought Iíd be saying this, but Iím American is an amazing album and a fitting tribute to the American soldier, past, present and future. Billy Ray Cyrus comes through with an old style country flare, telling stories and pulling at heart strings. Even if you donít know anyone who has served in the American Armed Forces, if this album doesnít bring a tear to your eye, you have no heart. Iím American would make the perfect gift for a loved oneís soldier, to let that individual know you understand what he/she is fighting for and that youíre proud of them. This is one Billy Ray Cyrus album that I would most definitely recommend!