Kid Rock: Rock And Roll Jesus 

According to Rolling Stone, the great beard and Buddha of the sonic universe, Rick Rubin, told a creatively stifled 36-year-old Bob Ritchie, "There are no classic rock stars today. You're one of the few who can still become one." However, as any major deity will tell ya ... Kid Rock's clearly three years off the mark for regulated, Westernized martyrdom.

Hell, Rock And Roll Jesus is even graced by a bible-black cover. Ah, but a few mildly significant albums have used this approach. History has proven those records made by AC/DC, Metallica and Jay-Z, and even The Eagles' classic, The Long Run are, essentially, timeless.

The devil without a cause may have made a record like that with his Atlantic debut but R&RJ has only been on the mount for a while. And I think I dig it. There are stark currents of fresh ambition and maturity oscillating all over it. The Kid channels the spirit of '76 with the use of plenty of muddy Southern gospel in "When U Love Someone," warm Cajun brass on "New Orleans" and everything Seger fired off post-Beautiful Loser on "Amen" and "Roll On." The finale, "Half Your Age," is a Brooks and Dunn-style ditty that's also a bittersweet stick off to the Pam who salted his game. More Galilee than Golgotha, R&RJ isn't so much a resurrection of storied sonic glories than just a heartening hard-rock hallelujah.

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