It’s like having Saturday morning breakfast at your favorite diner down on Main Street. Between reading the news and sipping coffee, conversations with friends inevitably turn to fond memories carrying a hint of nostalgia. On his sixth studio album, This Ole Boy due in stores February 28, Craig Morgan speaks to blue collar America with an easygoing collection that spends time reflecting on the good ole days.
Co-produced by Craig and Phil O’Donnell, This Ole Boy features 12 new songs showcasing the 47-year-old singer/songwriter fully entrenched in his music and sounding as comfortable as ever. The voice and feeling that many know so well from previous hits like “That’s What I Love About Sunday” are evident throughout the record as Craig makes his debut for new label home Black River Entertainment. This Ole Boy is Craig’s first new album since 2008’s That’s Why, but the good-natured approach he takes on songs like current Top 25 hit and title track “This Ole Boy” sound like the welcome return of a good friend. With happy-go-lucky guitar themes and flowing vocal melodies, Craig sings with a soft country twang, She sweetens my tea and she butters my biscuit / I am who I am and buddy she gets it.
Craig extolls the virtues of small town life and songs like “Whole World Needs A Kitchen” and “More Trucks Than Cars” pay humble ode to simpler times and less hectic lifestyles. On the radio-ready “More Trucks Than Cars,” nicely crafted visuals like the gas station attendant who knows your name and the waitress who calls you “baby” roll smoothly over a music bed of light pedal steel, banjo and electric guitars. “Show Me Your Tattoo,” a song destined to be a crowd favorite at concerts with its meaty country/rock guitar riffs, takes a slightly different approach as it subtly addresses rural rebelliousness. Craig displays innocent – albeit in the young teenage male sense – wonder at what her new ink could possibly look like as the swampy southern rocker pounds along.
Craig co-wrote seven of the album’s twelve songs, including “I Didn’t Drink,” which relates the record’s heaviest themes. The song depicts the tear-jerking story of being driven to drink due to the pain of a loved one’s cancer. Over dramatic piano tones, Craig holds the listener’s attention throughout this classic country song. Though this is easily the album’s darkest moment, most of This Ole Boy hums an optimistic tune.
Craig’s thirst for adventure shows up most notably on “Being Alive and Living” and “Better Stories.” The two standout album cuts celebrate living life to the fullest and without regrets. Craig delivers an impassioned vocal on the chorus of the former featuring the insightful line, There’s a difference between being alive and living.
This Ole Boy is full of easygoing charm. Songs like the sexy “Love Loves A Long Night” and “Fish Weren’t Bitin’” fill out a solid collection that feels like a warm conversation. Craig’s music and voice have always been engaging and accessible, and it’s no different here. So come on in, order a cup of coffee and pull up a seat – we’ve got some catching up to do.
Key tracks – “This Ole Boy,” “Being Alive and Living,” “Love Loves A Long Night,” “Show Me Your Tattoo”