Four and a half years. That’s how long I waited for my favorite artist on the planet to release his follow up album to Punching Bag. For those of you that don’t know, Josh’s music has always been special to me. There’s just some artists whose music touches us on another level than other artists, even other artists whose music we really like. The reason that his album was delayed for so long was because unfortunately Josh is signed to the label MCA. MCA has a dreadful history of delaying artists music when they don’t know how to proceed if a lead single isn’t a hit. Josh’s lead single to Deep South “Lay Low” was released way back in 2014. Although it was one of the best songs on the album it was only able to reach the top 20 on the country charts because, good music is strictly forbidden under country radio rules. So, more time went by with no update on when Josh would be allowed to release a new single or a new album until May of 2016 when “Hometown Girl” was released. The album has the same producer that Josh has always used Frank Rodgers and Turner wrote or co-wrote 5 of the albums 11 tracks including 4 songs that he solo wrote. Over the years Josh has always stuck to his neo traditional sound even as the genre continued to get away from that sound and headed towards pop and r&b. Unfortunately, Josh has never gotten the respect that I feel he deserves which includes not getting to perform at awards shows and not getting the radio play that he should. Josh may not always blow the listener away lyrically but, he is a simple, family man who makes genuine country music.
Highlights: I think a great place to start with the highlights is the lead single to this project “Lay Low.” This is about getting away from technology and the stresses of life. Josh just wants to get away to his cabin with his wife, turn off his cellphone and disappear. It’s a message that is very relateable and reminds me a little bit of William Michael Morgan’s current single “Missing.” I think that the clear best song on this album is “Wonder.” The man wonders about what could have been between him and his ex if he had not have screwed everything up. He will never know what their future could have been like but, he pines for how great things were not that long ago. The music is also great on this song with some steel guitar mixed in with fiddle and piano. “Never Had a Reason” is another good song on the album. The idea is that the man in this song never had a reason to do things like cooking for two people, taking a girl home to meet his parents and showing someone his hometown. He never had a reason to do any of these things until he met this incredible woman. He has never felt this way about anyone before in his life. “Hawaiian Girl” is a little bit different than any other song I have ever heard from Turner. This is a love song to a Hawaiian girl that he has fallen in love with. There is great steel guitar play mixed with a Hawaiian beach vibe. It’s definitely a great song to listen to by the beach or at the pool as it’s a very relaxing song.
Other Notable Songs: Let me be perfectly honest when I say that “Hometown Girl” the albums second single is my least favorite Josh Turner single ever. For someone who enjoys Josh Turner’s music as much as I do it speaks volumes that I would be bored of this song right after it was released. Now it’s not even one of the worst songs on the radio and Josh could make any song sound good but, this song is just very generic and boring. What I hate most about this song is the stupid Ooos and ah’s in the song and that is so beneath Josh Turner. The albums likely next single will be “Where the Girls Are” which I have been listening to on YouTube for over a year (live version). This is another song that a lesser artist could not pull off as well but, I really enjoy it from Josh. It’s essentially a more country version of “There’s a Girl” from Trent Harmon. It’s the idea that everything guys do is in pursuit of getting to where the girls are whether they are far away or right across the street. Guys spend night and day thinking about them and try so hard to be in their company. “One Like Mine” shows Josh trying to adapt a little bit to current trends in country. It’s a heavy electric guitar laced song with the usual steel guitar and fiddle about his soulmate. When you find someone like her that you want to spend your whole life with you mustn’t take her for granted. You will know when you find someone like this. The albums title track is another notable song for me. “Deep South” is a song that would have fit in perfectly on 2000’s or 90’s country radio. It’s a song about who Josh is and where he’s from. It’s not the first time Josh has cut a song like this and it’s a fantastic way to open the album and another possible single.
Final Thoughts/Grade: Josh Turner is not breaking any new ground on Deep South. What he does do is stay true to who he is and the music that he has made for years. He’s a simple country boy who has made genuine country music for over a decade now. Are there compromises on this album? Absolutely. But at this point if that is the game Josh has to play in order to get his music released then I can live with it. I’m just glad that Josh’s career appears to be back on track and I think “Where the Girls Are” could be a big hit for him if it’s the next single. My grade for the album is a B- 7/10.