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Granger Smith

Remington – 2016 (Wheelhouse)

Reviewed by Dustin Blumhagen

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CDs by Granger Smith

On the surface, Granger Smith seems like the type of artist who would be regularly topping modern country charts. Instead, he has existed in the underground, never quite getting his break on country radio until now. "Remington" is full of radio friendly country music complete with elements of hip hop beats and Auto Tuned vocals, the same sound that Jason Aldean frequently tops the charts with. Smith's recent signing to Aldean's Broken Bow Records imprint, Wheelhouse, suggests that he is finally making progress with his 8th full length album.

Smith has created feel good country music with a welcome amount of variety. Lead track and first single, "Back Road Song" is a smooth summer jam reminiscent of Jake Owen or Chase Rice. For some reason, "Remington" incorporates the entire "4x4" EP, which was Smith's best selling release to date. Despite this questionable choice, there are enough new tracks to make up for the choice. Second single "If the Boot Fits" seeks a similar summer beach party vibe. The ode to small towns, "Tailgate Town," was first released on the EP, but its laidback country vibe is a welcome addition here. Slow song "Tractor" is a sweet song equal parts corny and nostalgic. "Echo" may be the worst song in his discography with awkward beats and cheesy production.

The highlight songs are the contributions by Smith's alter ego, Earl Dibbles Jr. The character is an over the top stereotype of a redneck and spouts hilarious lines about jacked up trucks and hunting. He talks trash about "city boys in skinny jeans" and "'Merica," while talking like his lip is filled to the brim with chewing tobacco. The beauty of Earl Dibbles Jr. is that he crosses lines that most country artists cannot, as some folks will take his words and image as literal representations of their lifestyle while others recognize the satire and laugh at the joke.

Smith is best when he sticks to a more traditional country sound. It works well with his voice and is reminiscent of Canadian star Dean Brody. But his overproduced pop country songs are what has been helped get his latest work noticed, so he can be forgiven for including a blend of styles on his latest. The addition of the entertaining Dibbles Jr. joke songs at the end add a touch of lighthearted humor.