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Josh Turner

Deep South – 2017 (MCA Nashville)

Reviewed by Jeff Lincoln

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CDs by Josh Turner

They're called "overtones" or pleasing harmonic notes that neatly accompany a main melody. People gifted with them - Josh Turner, for example - essentially have more than one great singing voice in one body. Outfitted with overtones, a good vocalist - Josh Tuner, for example - can accentuate the emotion of a song, each note an opportunity to go a step higher or lower. It's that rare combination of talents that earned Turner a 2007 invitation to the Grand Ole Opry at the diaper-dandy age of 29. Carrie Underwood is the only member that's younger.

Turner has kept the world waiting for his bass vibrato - it's been five years since the South Carolina native's last studio album. The end result shows a rested and contented individual. Happy seems to be Turner's default stance, whether he's headed for the sand ("Beach Bums") or beaming about his Southern tribe ("Deep South"). Mostly, though, his delight comes from swooning over his girl. There are a lot of mid-tempo romantic tunes dedicated to the charms of the one he loves. "Hometown Girl" received a fair share of radio play and contributed handily to the early sales success of the record.

But in all of this parade of cheer, sometimes there's not enough substance to stick - debut single "Lay Low" stalled and rightfully so. A handful of lyrics might work great for a dance track, but it's riskier in country love song territory. The best moments on the record are when Turner leaves the known quantity of his happy place and explores foreign terrains. "Wonder" wistfully dreams about the one that got away, and "Hawaiian Girl" throws a ukulele arrangement into his new country mix.

This is a solid collection of likeable, but probably short-lived songs. Turner either needs to find another tickertape-shot charmer like 2010's "Why Don't We Just Dance" (no small order), or dig into something a little more serious. It would be wonderful to hear a record as deep as those Turner overtones.