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Not only is Turner traditional, he's popular

Belasco Theater, Los Angeles, February 27, 2018

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Every time Josh Turner reached for some of those wonderful subterranean low notes, which he often pulled out during his enjoyable night show, it was like a superhero applying a superpower. He didn't need this extra advantage to please his audience; he has so many quality songs stockpiled in his catalogue already doing the job. It was just one significant factor throwing many of his female audience members into a lightheaded swoon over the handsome country star.

Dressed in a casual t-shirt (with the words 'Honky Tonkin'' written across it) and jeans, Turner opened with the figurative and literal "Deep South," the title track to his 2017 full-length. Along the way, he sang about God with "Me and God," Southern lifestyle via "Backwoods Boy" and the simple pleasures of life ("Why Don't We Just Dance").

Turner smiled a lot while he performed. It wasn't some showbiz-y smirk or grin, though; he appeared to be sincerely happy. His songs often go straight to the heart for his audience. One guy standing in front of me enthused, "That's my song!" to his lady at least three times during the night. Either he was bad at math or too drunk to keep an accurate count. The point being Turner's songs go much deeper than being merely memorable radio hits.

Turner displays respect for his backing band by allowing them to move to the front of the stage for instrumental solos, while he moves to the back. This was his way of saying, 'let this man get a little of the spotlight, too.' And the music they played was of the traditional country variety, including plenty of fiddle, steel guitar and a touch of banjo. You never found yourself thinking, 'Uh, that sounds more like a pop song.' It was heartening to see this jam-packed theater audience thrilling to such age-old country sounds. Yes, Virginia, you can play traditional country music and be popular.

Temecula Road, a local trio featuring two sisters and their friend, opened with a strong vocal harmony-powered set. Their performance faltered just a little when they sang a medley of relatively current radio hits. As an act slated to perform at the upcoming Stagecoach Festival, they should be putting more confidence in their own material by now.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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