Yelawolf made a name for himself independently before signing with Eminem’s Shady Records in 2011.

His first release with Shady Records was “Radioactive” and it’s success was underwhelming.  There wasn’t much promotion behind it and this went down as two consecutive failures for Eminem who also failed to do much with the release of the Slaughterhouse album a year later.

Regardless of what Eminem does as a record executive, Yelawolf has to turn out some kind of worth-while project.  “Love Story” presents Yelawolf in a “stripped down” form.

His failures are there for all to see and he doesn’t shy from them at all during the album.  He also takes a stab at being more creative this time around.  It’s a big chance the 35-year-old rapper is taking and for his sake it better pay off. . .

Yelawolf experiments a lot with this LP and on the track “Change” he opens the first verse with the overlaying of a higher pitched melodic vocal mixed with his normal calm tone.

The second verse breaks into a harder drum pattern and a different guitar strum which helps to guide Yelawolf’s harder flow while the third verse displays Yelawolf through various filters as he breaks off from traditional rhymes schemes and starts to go off into philosophy :“Do not succumb to the masses ideas or the ridicule and the judgement  of those who follow ideas of the weak / Will perish and they did fall of enlightenment / become the vision of the mind’s eye.” 

Yelawolf sets a tone early that he is in this one for himself.

Yelawolf, who’s from Alabama, taps into his country roots a lot on this record and it turns out to be a smart decision.  Yelawolf sings a lot on “Love Story” and those songs and his singing voice are both welcomed surprises.   “American You” has Yelawolf describing what a typical American lifestyle is to him, which is a ‘grind it out, learn from your own mistakes’ way of living: “you make something out of nothing you make money for a living / pushin’ buttons, stickin’ digits, flippin burgers in the kitchen / with the vision, you’ve been dreaming, you’ve been savin’ / you’ve been given nothing but sh*t/ but you take it cause you’re patient in this prison.” 

“Devil In My Veins” is another country inspired track, that really brings out Yelawolf’s inner-Eric Church.   This seems like a plead from Yelawolf asking for forgiveness for any bad he’s done in his life but knows he can never truly be forgiven because the devil is “forever” in his veins.

Yelawolf follows “Devil In My Veins” with “Best Friend” which features Eminem.  Yelawolf rides the beat smoothly and calmly“To the Father, Son and Holy Spirit / I hold You nearest / My best friend, best friend / Let the trumpets blow with Your appearance / I can almost hear it.”  Eminem rarely takes a calm approach on any track and he attacks this otherwise calm beat only like he can : “Not even the doctors at the hospital are gonna shiggy-shock you back to life / It’s im-piggy-possible to revive you / Thats word to the diggy doc / Stiggy stopping is not an option / Something I’m not gonna do / I’m the Iggy Pop of Hip Hop when I walk in a booth.”  

The bass line on “Empty Bottles” (produced by Malay) adds to the depth of depression which Yelawolf engages himself into.  His drunk state turns from being out of sorts to being aggressive and angry in every direction and ends with a rapid fire bridge dealing with the after affects of a drunk night.

Yelawolf’s introspective side hits nicely with the poetic hook: “Empty bottles on the table black roses on the ground / Silhouettes of people dancing to an unfamiliar sound.”

With so much good going on with this album, it’s unreal that the first single released is the song “Box Chevy V.”  This song shows no growth from an artist who displays an immense coming of age on this entire LP.  While the previous tracks mentioned, explore the country roots of Yelawolf, this track shoves it in the listeners face and is more of a redneck stereotype than anything else.

But aside from that disappointment, the album as a whole, delivers in a good way.  Even the track “Tennessee Love” (presumably written for his fiance Fefe Dobson) doesn’t get too sappy, it’s actually a nice genuine display of their relationship: “Can’t you see that my hands are shaking? / Withdrawls from alcohol, Ain’t no use in fakin’ . . . Somedoay, if we get lucky and grow and get old / We’ll look back, and laugh about the circus and the show.”

Yela+Wolf+5sAh41MJz7Um“Disappear” shows Yelawolf as a young boy praying to God and asking him to come save him from the life he lives.

Yelawolf talks about an abusive step-father and a molester baby sitter and how he just wants God to come and just help him disappear from these issues.

It’s a touching song in which Yelawolf prays to God and calls him his “daddy,” but once again the poetry in which Yelawolf uses in his hook blows the listener away: “There’s a moth on the window sill and it came to die alone / Through the pain of the pouring rain I gaze into the storm /And I imagine I’m the son of a man who will hold me close and near / With these bruises on my face I cry while I pray to disappear.” 

Yelawolf’s best moment come on the Malay produced “Have a Great Flight.”  After doing some research it comes to light that this is a song for his grandmother.  The emotions run on high as Yelawolf says goodbye to a loved one (after doing research it appears it’s for his grandmother but it could be interpreted as a goodbye to his mother as well.)

The simplicity of his tone and the blue grass backing of this song makes his lyrics even that much more relatable : “I will keep your memories, they always make me smile / Letting you go honestly, I’m having a rough time / I promise I’ll be strong for you, like you said, and hold it in the road / But, I’ve been out here missing you, missing you so. . .”   The bridge of the song displays more experimenting by Yelawolf as his lines overlap each other but in harmonious fashion.

It’s amazing to believe that Yelawolf’s talents may now have reachedthis level of versatility and song writing.   The album kind of drags on as he packed in 17 tracks (and one interlude) but at least he’s giving you more bang for your buck.

The fear with this kind of album is that it will be presented to the wrong audience.   Eminem will still, without a doubt, present this as a rapper doing a rap album, when in actuality it’s a music artist being expressive in his truest form.  This album brings the positive qualities of B.O.B, Kid Rock and Outkast, packaged in the tattooed form of Yelawolf.

Rating 8.5 out of 10

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio


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