If it’s true what they say (‘Better late than never’), then I guess I’m ok with today’s post. I received these album reviews from Andrew Griffin of Red Dirt Report, back on March 27. And I’m just now finding the time to get them posted for you. I love reading Andrew’s reviews. He always seems to capture what’s going on with the artist and the music.  And he’s a great reviewer. Hope you all enjoy him too. Here are the two reviews I got from Andrew last week.

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Craig Morgan – This Ole Boy (Black River Entertainment) 2012

Ever since seeing Craig Morgan perform at a Fourth of July festival six years ago at Fort Sill, Okla., I have really enjoyed his music. Plus, being an Army vet himself, the troops loved him. A patriotic guy, for sure.

At that time, his hits “Almost Home,” “That’s What I Love About Sunday” and “Redneck Yacht Club” were all over the radio and Morgan had a style that was both easygoing and memorable.

Morgan continues that musical trend on This Ole Boy, where “More Trucks Than Cars” is an ode to the country where you are likely to see “water tower, power lines, swimming holes, rusty old RC Cola signs and county fairs.” It’s the usual country music imagery, and stuff that Craig Morgan loves to sing about. Plus, on this song you get a nice, twangy Jew harp from Russ Pahl. Not an instrument you hear that often in country these days.

Craig MorganMorgan has a songwriting role in many of these songs. For instance, the slower paced “The Whole World Needs a Kitchen” takes the listener on a trip back in time – to a simpler time where “the smell of supper cookin’” is something you are unlikely to forget.

“Country Boys Like Me” is an honest and heartfelt song that ranks as one of Morgan’s best.

Sings Morgan in this country boy confessional: “Saw hate in livin’ color on my TV / learned black kids bled red just like me / Scott’s Playboy opened my eyes one afternoon / I noticed Jenny’s eyes were blue / and mama prayed for my every move.”This is good stuff.

While Morgan seems to be having fun with the hamfisted “Show Me Your Tattoo,” it is one song I could have done without. It just sounds forced.

craig_dirt_bikeFor those guys of my generation who preferred Mary Ann over the more glamorous Ginger on Gilligan’s Island, the Luke Bryan-styled “Corn Star” is the sort of song that will ring true, y’all.

But just when you get done rolling your eyes, Morgan surprises you with a steamy ballad like “Love Loves a Long Night.” Chad Cromwell (Neil Young’s drummer) adds a nice snare to this keeper.

“I Didn’t Drink” is one of those tearjerkers that George Strait does so well. A man is trying to get over losing his wife, so, he finds himself in the corner bar. Sings Morgan: “Damn that cancer that came / and took her away from me / left me in misery.” Again, Morgan had a hand in penning this powerful song.

There’s nothing on here as memorable as, say, “International Harvester” or “Bonfire,” but This Ole Boyhas plenty of solid country music of varying tempos and themes. A solid release from an artist you can’t help but like.

Dierks Bentley – Home (Capitol Nashville) 2012

After taking that side trip into the rootsy world of Up On the Ridge a couple of years ago, many weren’t sure what route country star Dierks Bentley would take on the follow up album. Well, here we are and with Home– his seventh disc – we get more of the polished Nashville country that we heard on Feel That Fire – a fine album, to be sure, but not as compelling an interesting as his brief experiment in bluegrass.

Track 1 – “Am I The Only One” – is evidence that the old Dierks is back. Light on the old-timey instruments. You can almost see him smile as he belts out this country party anthem. It’s a little formulaic but appealing, nevertheless.

DierksBentleyBentley loves vocal rhythms that really flow, as we heard on his 2009 hit “Sideways.” Well, on “Gonna Die Young,” the second track, with its rock guitars and swampy fiddle, it has an urgent feel to it, but it’s not as memorable as the former hit.

After a hard week, Bentley tells the boys to “Tip It On Back” with a few beers with friends. If there’s something Dierks Bentley does well, is sing songs about forgetting it all.

Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild sings a duet with Bentley on the decent “When You Gonna Come Around.” Not one of his best songs, but the addition of Fairchild’s vocal makes it worthwhile after a few listens.

“In My Head” is fairly typical midtempo Nashville stuff while “The Woods” turns out to be the rural route version of the saying “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” This is an oddly sultry song that Dierks pulls off almost effortlessly.

Dierks Bentley“5-1-5-0” treads familiar Dierks territory – and actually that’s a good thing. Dierks and the Nashville sidemen he has hired really have it together. And the lyrics and delivery are a cross between the aforementioned“Sideways” and his first hit, “What Was I Thinkin’?” This is a song I find myself returning to – and it’s actually stuck towards the end of the album.

A real standout is the patriotic title track that is quite powerful without layering on the jingoistic nonsense. He really appreciates his home in America and that sentiment comes through loud and clear. Kudos to producer Brett Beavers, who helped Bentley co-write this song with Dan Wilson.

But before you know it, Dierks is wading into Toby Keith territory with the twangy, tongue-in-cheek “Diamonds Make Babies.” I can see the video now, with Dierks goofing around in a bar like some cartoonish buffoon. No … Dierks would never do that …

The Phoenix, Ariz. native finishes up Home with “Heart Of a Lonely Girl” and “Thinking of You.” The former has a fiddle-heavy alt-country feel while the latter, featuring daughter Evie Bentley, is an ode to his daughter about what he is thinking about when he is out on the road. A tender and beautiful song, written from a father’s point of view.

Copyright 2012 West Marie Media
(Reprinted with permission)

Cant just stop without throwing a huge THANK YOU out to Andrew for these great reviews. His contributions to Country’s Chatter are always very much appreciated!

More later!

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If it’s true what they say (‘Better late than never’), then I guess I’m ok with today’s post. I received these album reviews from Andrew Griffin of Red Dirt Report, back on March 27. And I’m just now finding the time to get them posted for you. I love...