Billy Ray Cyrus has been recording and performing music for the past two-and-a-half decades. His latest release, Set the Record Straight, is an eclectic mixture of songs that keep the listener on the edge as Billy Ray switches from style-to-style.
These songs do not musically flow together, but they don’t need to. On this album, he peels back the layers of himself and exposes who Billy Ray Cyrus is. These songs are a reflection of his life.
The song styles include traditional bluegrass, traditional country, modern country, blues, southern rock, and electronic dance music (EDM). Some of the songs are lined with serious messages, while others are fun and playful.
The most progressive song on the album is “Tulsa Time (ROKMAN Remix)”. It features his daughter Noah Cyrus, along with up-and-coming country artist Derek Jones. This song is not meant for the honky-tonk, but rather the EDM club scene. It features all the great things about an EDM track, a great beat, solids drops, and of course great familiar lyrics, thanks to Don Williams. This song takes total opposite genres, mashes them together, and creates a striking, yet wonderful end product that just makes you want to dance. It may not be for everyone, but it’s meant to be fun, and the lack of country instrumentation shows it was intended to be that way.
The most traditional song on the album is “Trail of Tears”, which is a superb bluegrass song. The harmonies and instrumentation transport you right back to the hills of Kentucky. A modern country song, “I Wanna Be Your Joe” is about a simple relationship without the need for material things, “I just want to love you, and watch our babies grow”.
“I Want My Mullet Back” feels like he is reliving the start of his career and all the fun he had. A few remixed versions of “Achy Breaky Heart” are included as well, celebrating the mullet-wearing days.
He pays homage to Johnny Cash with an updated feeling “Folsom Prison Blues”. The collaboration “Country Music Has the Blues”, with George Jones and Loretta Lynn, feature lyrics containing a virtual who’s who of country music past.
“Stand” features a thirteen-year-old Miley Cyrus on vocals stating “are you ready to stand for what you believe in?” There are several songs about family included, showing his caring and yearning for those tight-knit relationships. On “Hey Daddy” he sings about always spending time working and having to spend time away from his family until he realizes they are all grown. It was not a coincidence two of his daughters made it onto this album.
Individually a lot of the songs are stellar tracks, and as a whole, it takes a bit of time to get used to. It was a bold approach to include the all the various styles on one album, but it works. It’s a look into what makes up Billy Ray Cyrus, and it’s not just an “Achy Breaky Heart”, it is faith, family, and fun.
Set the Record Straight Track Listing
“I Wanna Be Your Joe”
“Tulsa Time” (ROKMAN Remix) [feat. Noah Cyrus & Derek Jones]
“Folsom Prison Blues”
“Country Music Has the Blues” (feat. George Jones & Loretta Lynn)
“I Want My Mullet Back”
“Achy Breaky Heart” 25th (Muscle Shoals Mix) [feat. Ronnie Milsap]
“I Wouldn’t Be Me”
“Stand” (feat. Miley Cyrus)
“The Freebird Fell”
“Trail of Tears”
“Achy Breaky Heart” 25th (Spanglish) [feat. Jencarlos Canela]
“Meant to Be”
“Achy Breaky Heart” (Remix) [feat. DJKO]
Journalist: Allen Heimberger