Country music needs more true country songs, not more songs proving country credentials. Randy Houser's latest contains a few examples of the former. After bragging unnecessarily in one verse about liking to "smoke from my left hand," he ends the chorus to Whistlin' Dixie by stating, "I ain't just Whistlin' Dixie." Then on the bluesy, rocking Out Here In The Country he tells us, "Them city lights ain't my cup of tea." But this bluster all comes off like he's preaching to the choir and pandering to the converted, instead of giving a true and - perhaps - uplifting portrait of the South.
Houser is far more effective when he sings in a more confessional way, as he does on the acoustic guitar-backed Will I Always Be This Way. He wants to be the man that's "runnin' home every night" to his wife. He doesn't know the experience of this domesticity. Instead, this is a lifestyle he's only "heard about" about from friends. And this is not just a familiar country song sentiment; it's also a fine country song. However, whenever Houser over-asserts his Southern-ness, it's a little like people arguing their honesty. If you have to try so hard to persuade me, maybe what you say is not so. But we believe you're true country, Randy. So be who you are, and stop always telling me who you are.