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Corey Smith

The Broken Record – 2011 (Average Joe's)

Reviewed by Sam Gazdziak

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CDs by Corey Smith

A high school teacher before becoming a full-time singer, Corey Smith has built up enough of a regional presence to sell out venues in his native Georgia and throughout the Southeast and Northeast. (An unknown group by the name of the Zac Brown Band was his opening act back in the day.) Having released several albums on his own, "The Broken Record" is Smith's debut on Average Joe's Entertainment, the record label that helped put Colt Ford and Brantley Gilbert on the map.

Unlike some of his label-mates that mix country with heavy doses of rock or hip-hop, Smith is unmistakably a country singer, perhaps leaning toward the folk/Americana side. Part new material, part re-recordings of older songs, "The Broken Record" sounds like someone going through a mid-life reflection - not quite a mid-life crisis. Many of the songs have Smith looking back as his younger years with a touch of regret. Elsewhere though, such as New Day, Smith has his eye toward the future.

Unlike other songs that reminisce about days gone by, Smith doesn't sing about generic or clichéd experiences, and the songs are all the more interesting because of it. In If I Could Do It Again, he tells exactly how he and his buddies hid their alcohol stash from the Alabama state police, while Twenty-One portrays an underage Smith picking up University of Georgia co-eds by saying he's a pre-med major from Buckhead. If Smith didn't live out those scenarios, he's got a vivid imagination.

Smith has a soulful voice that sounds a bit like Justin Townes Earle, mixed in with some vocal flourishes reminiscent of Jason Mraz. In other words, he doesn't sound like anyone in mainstream country music, which could be a mixed blessing. But for those who are unfamiliar with his work, "The Broken Record" proves to be a fine introduction.