After four long years, Trace Adkins finally made his return to the studio for his 12th album, Something’s Going On. For his fans, it was worth the wait, as the bulky baritone delivers one of his strongest album messages and vocal performances to date.

Adkins, who admits to going through a rough patch over the last three years, emotes with his legendary deep voice in a manner much warmer and smoother than his ’90s beginnings; a sign that at 55 years old, the singer is still somehow improving. Though Adkins didn’t write any of the songs on this album — and admittedly bumped three of his own cowritten tracks from the final cut — he delivers each song so honestly, it feels as if he were the man behind the pen.

Watered Down” is the album’s shining radio centerpiece — the third single released after “Lit” and “Jesus and Jones” — and is a reflection of not only Adkins, but of all those on the other side of 40, who now live a much tamer life compared to their fast-paced youth.

“We still fly like gypsies / Just a little closer to the ground / And we still love our whiskey / But now it's just a little watered down.”

Adkins named “Watered Down” his favorite song on the album, along with emotional cuts “If Only You Were Lonely” and “Whipperwhools and Freight Trains,” all three of which he admits to breaking down during to while recording. These three songs in particular also capture the modern day storytelling format of country music, and the entire album emanates songs of heartbreak, aging and opening the next chapter of life. Something’s Going On also reveals that Adkins is still a lyrics-first artist who isn’t chasing a trend; these are mature lyrics being sung by an adult.

Produced by Mickey Jack Cones, Something’s Going On is rich with guitars and real instrumentation — a sound that has been fading from pop-driven country records as of late. Though he does take a chance with "Gonna Make You Miss Me," Adkins is evolving in the way fans expect him to.

The title track, “Something’s Going On,” is by far Adkins’ sexiest track on the album, revolving around a hybrid of old-school imagery and new-school phrasing. Adkins noted the opening bridge line, “She’s dancing down the hall / Shaking out her hair / In nothing but her heels” — is his favorite in the song.

Receiving a major assist from Nashville’s best songwriters including Tyler Farr, Craig Campbell and Shane McAnally, Adkins once again completes the final product with his trademark voice that appears forever undeniable.

Did You Know? Adkins had already finished the record when his band leader Jon Coleman played him the song “If Only You Were Lonely,” a song Coleman cowrote with Troy Johnson. Adkins loved the song so much, he bumped a different song from the record to make room for the Coleman/Johnson tune.

Key Tracks: “Watered Down,” “Something’s Going On,” “If Only You Were Lonely” and “Gonna Make You Miss Me”

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