Randy Houser has been writing songs for other country artists for more than half a decade - he was best known for Trace Adkins' 2005 hit
Honky Tonk Badonkadonk. And, as a kid, he spent summers with his musician father and played in his own bands. That history shows in the songs - a nice rhyme here, a catchy chorus there and Houser's expressive vocals throughout - and in the diversity of styles.
He pushes all the right buttons for radio-ready singles. That makes
for a handful of decent songs, but as a whole, it seems more like a series of checked off boxes than an artistic statement: Anthem for a hard workin' man. Check. (Paycheck Man) Belted ballad about true love. Check. (Something Real) Vaguely risque novelty song. Check. (Lie) Saccharine ballad about dying father. Check. (I'll Sleep)
Almost any track could be a moderately successful single. (Only almost, though, because the most unusual track, a talking blues cheating and heartbreak song,How Many Times, is unlikely single material, even with Vince Gill providing harmonies.) Unfortunately, a disc filled with 'hoping for a hit' singles doesn't make for a very listenable album.