Kid Rock has one of the more interesting histories as a mainstream artist. Early on in his career Rock was known more for a rap-rock style that was trendy around the late 1990s, and Devil Without a Cause would go on to become one of the more noteworthy records of that decade, making Kid Rock a major bill touring presence. In the mid-2000s he took a major step into a different direction. The southern rock presence of his earlier music had completely taken over and left the rap moments in the dust for the most part. 2010’s Born Free moved more toward a mixture between country and southern rock music, while First Kiss seems to be a mixture of both styles in the most complete fashion, and the results are pretty decent.
First Kiss has the standard formula for what the simpler Kid Rock has to bring to the table. The themes present on the record include past relationships, having fun nights out, statements against the current political system, and enjoying meaningful time with family members. The best aspect of the album is how easy Kid Rock is to relate with. As someone who has lost their father, “Drinking Beer With Dad” is a touching tribute to the family time that more people should have. “First Kiss” has a nice sense of nostalgia to a first crush and the great times they had as young partners. “Ain’t Enough Whiskey” makes Rock seem a bit old but his sentiments are just funny enough to make the track worth multiple listens. The funniest moments come late with “FOAD” though. The track is about a partner that no longer is welcome into his life and is talking behind his back for no reason. The sentiment of telling them to fuck off and die is surprisingly humorous.
The instrumentals of the record are fairly predictable for fans of Kid Rock’s recent discography. The guitars blur a line between a revisionist southern rock sound and country ballad atmosphere that is much more effective than any mainstream country artist on the radio. The more rocking tracks are easily the most effective ones, displaying a distinct love for the old school rock n’ roll that he consistently brings up. The slower tracks still have a good sense of older sensibilities but rely more on simplistic instrumentals that lack a bit of life.
The main problem with First Kiss as a record is how limited one may feel to listen to the album over time. The album has a dated feel to it that never really livens up from beginning to end. The handful of tracks that are solid are worth multiple listens but there are too many that do limited to bring anything overly interesting. “First Kiss” is a solid lead single and “Drinking Beer With Dad” is undeniably real, but songs like “Good Times, Cheap Wine” and “Jesus ad Bocephus” are less than spectacular, though. Both tracks have a chorus that repeats a bit too much for their own good, and the latter track has religious imagery that is too obvious to garner much interest.
Kid Rock has put together one of the best albums in his recent discography with First Kiss. The record will do nothing to make new fans who disliked his last two albums, but fans who know what to expect will find more hits than misses. The instrumentals are still a bit boring at times but the best tracks still show that Kid Rock can write some good material and make sections of records that still elicit meaning for his bigger fans.
1. First Kiss
2. Good Times, Cheap Wine
3. Johnny Cash
4. Ain’t Enough Whiskey
5. Drinking Beer With Dad
6. Good Time Lookin’ For Me
7. Best of Me
8. One More Song
9. Jesus and Bocephus