Craig Morgan‘s discography includes songs as wild and redneck as ‘Bonfire’ and ‘International Harvester,’ and as sobering as ‘Almost Home’ and ‘Tough.’ On his new album ‘This Ole Boy,’ the singer never reaches those extremes, turning in his most centered project to date.

‘This Ole Boy’ is an easy listen. Morgan includes 12 wholesome, folksy country songs, most sung with a crooked grin but no lack of sincerity. You find yourself charmed by his good-natured, every man character on songs like ‘More Trucks Than Cars,’ ‘Being Alive and Living’ and ‘Better Stories.’ Pieces of his personal life are infused into the rural America lyrics, but one wouldn’t know it unless they knew how much he loves daredevil sports and dirt bike racing in his free time.

‘Love Loves a Long Night’ is Morgan’s most impressive vocal performance to date. He’s never released a slow-romancer to radio, but proves more than capable of dimming the lights on this song, which towards the end forces one to look at the radio and cry out, “Dang!”

A food critic would say ‘This Ole Boy’ has value, as it doesn’t rely on extreme ingredients (although ‘Corn Star’ pushes it), instead moving along with a fluid consistency not found on many country albums — especially those from artists pushing their first or second recording. Songs like ‘Whole World Needs a Kitchen’ and ‘Country Boys’ aren’t brilliant, but Morgan himself admits he may have aimed for brilliant a little too much on previous albums. What this project lacks in unique flavor it more than makes up for in familiar sustenance.

4 Stars



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