Deep South

by: Josh Turner

The last time Josh Turner made an album was back in 2012, just after American Idol winner -- and major league Turner fan -- Scotty McCreery pushed the deep-voiced singer into the pop spotlight. Punching Bag, the record Turner put out in the summer of 2012, topped the Billboard country chart but had only one hit ("Time Is Love") before fading away, a fate that also befell "Lay Low," a single he issued in 2014. "Lay Low" found its way onto Deep South, the long-awaited Turner album that finally appeared in the spring of 2017. Such a long wait between records, particularly with a failed single at its midpoint, suggests that Turner and his label were searching around for the right artistic direction for his sixth album. Deep South does bear this supposition out, but not in a bad way. Turner doesn't attempt to chase trends, choosing instead to lean into his knack for supple balladry and then build a mature modern country around that sound. While there may be a heavy dose of ballads on Deep South, he finds plenty of space for fun, going so far as to close the album with "Hawaiian Girl," a song that feels like a tip of the hat to Elvis Presley's Blue Hawaii. Usually, Turner doesn't look quite so far back in the past. He chooses to stop somewhere between 1995 and 2005, favoring a straight-ahead country that still finds place for goofy party tunes ("All About You") and breezy Caribbean vibes ("Beach Bums"). What keeps Deep South from feeling like a throwback is how Turner is embracing his approaching middle age. He's relying on his musical roots while finding sustenance in home and family, and these two qualities tie together the musical walkabouts on Deep South. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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