September 11 turned Toby Keith from harmless Nashville beefcake into an ill-tempered redneck promising tailgate justice. That transformation also made Keith one of mainstream country's biggest stars -- note the title of his latest disc, White Trash With Money
. The success seems to have cooled his more hotheaded inclinations: In the only politically minded tune on White Trash
, he asks -- without threat of a beatdown -- how someone "could vote to take prayer from our classrooms right when we need prayer the most."
Ironically, as Keith has gotten more likable as a human being, his work has become less interesting musically; good-times cuts like "Get Drunk and Be Somebody" and the lovesick ballad-with-strings "A Little Too Late" offer dependable Music City pleasures, but nothing you can't easily find elsewhere. Still, Keith's live show remains one of Nashville's crowd-pleasingest. Who knows? He might even trick you into pumping your fist. Lindsay Haun, who just signed with Keith's label, opens.