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Broken foot doesn't slow down Josh Turner at Tin Pan South

Mercy Lounge, Nashville, April 6, 2008

Reviewed by Jessica Phillips

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Josh Turner, fresh off from touring arenas with Carrie Underwood, looked relaxed and confident as he came onstage at the club despite having broken his foot while playing basketball a few days before the show.

Turner was joined by two of Nashville's most popular songwriters, Pat McLaughlin and Shawn Camp as one of the Tin Pan South concerts showcasing songwriters.

The acoustic threesome, backed by Turner's fiddle and mandolin player, took turns performing their hits. McLaughlin, has had more than 40 cuts and frequently co-writes with Turner, shuffled through newer traditional songs like "Comin' Round," and "Sure Missing My Baby," before taking a turn on "Jacksonville," a song included on Turner's first album. "I have to sing this about three keys higher than Josh," McLaughlin quipped. Later in the set, McLaughlin performed his Gary Allan hit, "Songs About Rain," his voice taking on the same grainy quality.

Never an artist to be pigeon-holed, Camp beautifully offered songs that hinted at a range of styles - bluegrass, folk, country and roots rock. While he has had cuts on CDs by Randy Travis, Garth Brooks, Del McCoury and Diamond Rio, he stuck with mostly new compositions. "Rolling on the River of Love"and"Half a Day Away from You," got the capacity crowd singing along. He continually backed McLaughlin and Turner on their songs. Later on, he did launch into his Blake Shelton hit, "Nobody But Me."

Turner, who is often compared favorably to Travis, demonstrated that he can live up to the comparisons. Turner shares Travis' strikingly deep backwoods vocals, his traditional country sound and his storytelling skills. His voice was in top shape that night as ripped into "Would You Go With Me" (written by Camp) and "Everything is Fine," the title track of his latest release.

Turner related how early on in his career, he would visit his publisher's office to listen the catalogs of other writers. "I was young, with no job, and not married," he stated. "I had a lot of time on my hands to listen to music, and I fell in love with McLaughlin's music." Turner covered McLaughlin's Irish flavored country ballad, "The Longer the Waiting" before taking on John Anderson's "Baby's Gone Home to Mama." He ended the night with the humorous story song, "Loretta Lynn's Lincoln" with the line "I was dreaming I was riding in Loretta Lynn's Lincoln" before concluding with a crowd-pleasing version of the smart and sizzling "Firecracker."