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Josh Turner

Punching Bag – 2012 (MCA)

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

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CDs by Josh Turner

Josh's Turner's fifth album for MCA Nashville, "Punching Bag" can be interpreted quite literally. It starts off with a hokey Vince McMahon ring introduction, citing Turner's height, weight and a moniker, "The Tornado of Testosterone." It is fitting for one of music's most distinct baritones. He spent two years building a writer's cottage for inspiration. Ironically, the Top 15 single Time Is Love is 1 of the 12 tracks that he did not have a hand in writing.

The album is being praised for its adherence to country's roots. This is most evident in the careful choosing of traditional country instrumentation. Between the Telecaster intro on Watcha Reckon to the fiddle on Left Hand Man, pedal steel and electric piano are interspersed throughout. Marty Stuart's mandolin is extra special on the haunting Pallbearer

Turner is openly religious and typically includes some numbers demonstrating his faith on each album. In this case, there is an ode to God's omnipotence titled I Was There and the bluegrass brushed For The Love Of God. Both lyrics are a bit over the top. On the former, he sings, "I was there that night in Bethlehem and when Neil and the boys came to the moon in that tin can." The latter is suitable for a pulpit, where a man excessively professes his love of God over all else.

Refreshingly, "Punching Bag" has few tunes targeted to achieve chart position and resides more firmly in traditional country than many of his peers.