Craig Morgan

God, Family, Country – 2020 (Broken Bow)

Reviewed by Jeff Lincoln

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CDs by Craig Morgan

Craig Morgan clearly loves his country and his country music - he now has 20 years of recording cred. It's been a career for the Tennessean that's gone a bit up/down/sideways. Morgan's biggest hits of "That's What I Love About Sunday (a re-recording appears on this collection) and "Redneck Yacht Club" are well in the rear view. But he's still a Grand Ole Opry member and signed with a new label in 2019.

What's intriguing about this collection isn't so much that the remastered oldies outdo the new songs (they do). But for the tunes that touch on the struggles to stay strong and steadfast in the USA today, it all feels very current. The real highlight is "Soldier," a cover of a Gavin McGraw song pledging to stand by someone. Maybe the narrative voice is a parent or a friend or a Higher Power - but the lyrics have some real haymakers ("While the world's spinning out of control...That's why it's called a moment of truth").

Morgan can write his own songs, too, and there's a deeply personal one to kick off the record: "The Father, My Son, And the Holy Ghost." Morgan's son died tragically young in a sports accident at 19, but Morgan steers clear of all sentimentality to spotlight his faith beyond the tears. Musically, it's got a lot of big-chorus pop-country power akin to Lee Brice.

In later tracks, the vocal compression gets to be too much. When that happens, the ballads serve as a form of rescue. And for the curious, yes, there's enough whiskey references here that it's not industrial strength squeaky-clean (it is close). Still, records you can play for grandma without blushing have their place. Morgan takes us on a full journey on this one - splitting the difference with songs from his past and present - aptly showing their spiritual connection. It works well to show off his pride and persistence through a lot of years of every flavor.