Your Man

by: Josh Turner

Josh Turner's second album is deliberately steeped in country music tradition; at one point or another, he name-checks Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, and Red Sovine; sings with John Anderson and Ralph Stanley; and borrows songs from Anderson and Don Williams. At a time when country music, as so often, was flirting with pop, Turner took a leaf from his main immediate influence, Randy Travis, and established a sort of neo-neo-traditionalist approach with his first significant hit, "Long Black Train," in 2003-2004. Although it topped out at only number 13 in Billboard's country chart, the song established Turner, whose debut album, named after the single, went platinum. There isn't anything as arresting on this collection (the title song, an ordinary love ballad, inched into the country Top 20 prior to the album's release), but it is more consistent overall. Producer Frank Rogers constructs conventional country arrangements that do not draw any special attention to themselves, which is appropriate since all they need to do is serve as background to the real attraction, Turner's resonant bass baritone. It's that voice that matters, more than the music and more than the songs, although Turner and Rogers have put together a nicely balanced selection that includes a heartfelt ballad in "Angels Fall Sometimes" (one of five songs out of 11 that Turner wrote or co-wrote); the honky tonk duet "White Noise," a surprisingly successful pairing with Anderson; the dumb-but-no-doubt-sincere "Me and God," sung with Stanley; the rollicking novelty "Loretta Lynn's Lincoln" (a video waiting to happen); and the winning revival of Williams' 1977 hit "Lord Have Mercy on a Country Boy." Turner doesn't quite have the sense of wry humor necessary to make Anderson's (or songwriter Shawn Camp's) "Baby's Gone Home to Mama" his own -- he's still a better technical singer than he is an interpreter -- but he's still young, and improving. ~ William Ruhlmann

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