Everything is Fine (MCA/UMG Nashville)
I have a feeling that some of the newer fans to country music will take one or two listens to this new album and wonder where the hell they’re over-processed country-rock songs are. They’ll probably even call “Everything is Fine” a boring record. And that’s where they’ll be wrong. Sure, it’s light years away from Rascal Flattsbut that’s exactly the point. Can you imagine what would happen if Josh Turner was actually singing over country-pop arrangements? Well, a couple tracks on his first and second CDs came close but I don’t know what would actually happen if he did.
Turner’s self-written title track opens up the record and immediately Josh displays that crystal clear baritone voice that is instantly identifiable as his and his alone. It’s a slow-building track with crackling fiddles, steel guitar and Stratocaster guitars backing up a remarkable vocalist who sings so effortlessly. It’s a likable song that’s likely gonna be a single somewhere down the road. First single (and newly Top 10 hit) “Firecracker,” written by Turner with Shawn Camp and Pat McLaughlin, is the kind of song that John Anderson or Garth Brooks might have recorded at the height of their heydays. Sure it’s not the greatest of songs but it still better than other ditties to become big hits as of late (remember that “Badonkadonk” song?).
Josh is joined by the best female vocalist in the business for “Another Try.” Trisha Yearwood is that woman and she and Josh’s vocals blend nicely as Josh sings about a guy who realizes what he did wrong. Strong Dobro and fiddle leads are backed by countrypolitan-like strings in the choruses. While labeled as a duet this song is more akin to some of the ‘duets’ that Garth Brooks sang on and not a verse swapping duet. When I read the liner-notes of the record I thought that the paring of mainstream country’s ‘keeper of the flame’ with mainstream R&B’s ‘traditionalist’ Anthony Hamilton would make for an interesting track at least. Anyone expecting a Rascal Flatts’/Jamie Foxxtype of duet will be pleasantly surprised about the Hamilton-penned “Nowhere Fast.” Hamilton is one of the best singers in any genre and he proves that he could “be like Ray” and release a country record and most likely receive the stardom that has somehow eluded him in R&B. It’s a wonderful track that never veers anywhere close to pop or rock but it also retains a lot of R&B flavor. I just love the song.
There are a couple more highlights to be found on the record. One of them is the very country “Trailerhood.” and one song that Josh proves his traditional mettle with: Johnny Horton‘s 1956 hit “One Woman Man.” The Celtic, bluegrass-y “The Longer The Waiting (The Sweeter The Kiss)” is an interesting song about eternal life. “The Way That He Was Raised” has a lot going for it. First of all, it’s a story song. But perhaps the biggest surprise of all is the fact that it’s a song about Jesus Christ. It’s one of the best new gospel songs I’ve heard in recent years and Turner deserves kudos for making such a great song, one that will likely win some Dove Awards in the future.
Josh Turner and his producer Frank Rogers (who also produces Brad Paisley‘s records) have made a fine record that may very well be the best ‘boring’ release of the last couple of years. The Opry’s newest addition certainly has something to be proud of with “Everything Is Fine.“