Craig Morgan

This Ole Boy – 2012 (Black River)

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

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CDs by Craig Morgan

Craig Morgan likes to keep things simple. Once dubbed "country music's champion of the Everyman" he is best known best known for songs that espouse the core values of the genre: Faith ( That's What I Love About Sunday), good times, ( Redneck Yacht Club) and helping others ( Almost Home ).

We get much of the same on "This Ole Boy," his first new music in three years and debut with Black River Entertainment. Disappointingly, the patriotism, religion and love thy neighbor themes are buried deep in songs so laden with redneck stereotypes, you expect to see Gretchen Wilson credited somewhere in the liner notes. Most glaring, on Where There's More Trucks than Cars he sings, "We say hell yeah and amen, yee haw and y'all come back again."

The opening line of Better Stories, muses "If you never hit a cow at 3 a.m. in a borrowed Oldsmobile or played cards all night in the county jail with a one-armed man named Bill." Corn Star is a fun parody of, well, you know...

Sonically, the album is mostly upbeat and Morgan's smooth baritone rings with its usual twang. "No matter what level of an artist you are, you choose songs based on who you are at that time and how you feel. I'm at a point in my life where I'm extremely comfortable. Extremely confident. I feel good about my family, friends, and my career. Looking back, I think the songs I picked reflect that."

They certainly do. Every track (he co-wrote 7 of the 12) is right in his down home country boy wheel house. Hopefully in the future, he can take a swing at a few that are out of the strike zone.