Jun 12, 201201:13 PMThe Telegraph
The Premier Blog of the West
New Tunes: June 12, 2012
Josh Turner, Punching Bag – Maybe we’re partial to this guy because we recently interviewed him, but it was disappointing that Mr. Turner didn’t play one of the big shows at the CMA Music Festival in Nashville over the weekend.
Seemed like a missed opportunity. He’s got a brand new album hitting stores, he was in town for his fan-club party, and he’s undisputedly one of country’s top talents. Plus, he would have helped balance out some of the slicker acts that currently rule the radio.
No need to dwell on shoulda-couldas, though. It'd better serve you if we talk about the new music on Punching Bag. It's Turner's most personal album to date, since he wrote eight of its songs.
Track by track ...
“Punching Bag” – It’s about having “one of those days,” and it channels blue-collar frustration and defiance with a breakneck beat, two-part harmonies and aggressive fiddlin’.
“Time Is Love” – We’ve all heard the first single. It’s a tender, mandolin-laden ode to quantity time: The more time spent with someone, the deeper the bond.
“Deeper Than My Love” – This one’s bound to be a single. The melody’s undeniable, and it plays quite literally on Turner’s best vocal asset – that deep, deep bass.
“Good Problem” – Turner, the songwriter, honors the long country tradition of changing the meaning of common phrases and turning them into lyrical hooks. “It’s a full time job/But I’m alright with that/Lovin’ you/That’s a good problem to have.”
“Cold Shoulder” – Anyone who yearns for the simple, tautly-written early ballads of George Strait will get nostalgic chills listening to this one. It’s authentic, right down to the delightfully tinny piano.
“Find Me A Baby” – Can’t think of any way to describe this song other than “awwww.” Turner embraces his role as a family man, inviting his wife and three young boys to join him on a chorus of na-na-nas.
“Whatcha Reckon” – Custom-made for the Billy Bob’s dancefloor, this song serves as a persuasive shotgun-wedding proposal.
“Pallbearer” – Yet another song that could have come out in the late ’70s or early ’80s and not raised an eyebrow. Turner cleverly compares a romantic heartbreak to the unique sorrow felt by a pallbearer.
“For The Love Of God” – He always includes one or two spiritual tunes. This one works to reaffirm the singer’s unrelenting faith, and gets in a few nice bluegrass licks in the process.
“I Was There” – God’s the narrator in this one, but it’s more an imagined monologue than a mini-sermon.
“Left Hand Man” – Ends the album on a slightly lighter note, with a declaration of monogamous love from first date to last rites.
Also out this week:
Mary Chapin Carpenter, Ashes & Roses – (Listen here) The respected country-folk singer offers up a set of gorgeous tunes about heartbreak, grief and mortality, inspired by her personal struggles. Tracks that stuck out to us during an initial listen were the divorce lament “What To Keep And What To Throw Away,” the James Taylor duet “Soul Companion,” and the anti-regret anthem “Chasing What’s Already Gone.” You can’t go wrong with any of these songs, though. Mary’s one of the good ones.
Walt Wilkins, Plenty – Another quietly profound songwriter, the Texas artist Wilkins is a musical hero to his contemporaries, but could stand to be discovered by a few more listeners. A lyrical sample from the second track on the pedal-steel-soaked new album: “If you hang on to your soul, that’s enough/The only way you’re gonna lose is to give up.”
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, The Lion The Beast The Beat – Potter has a big, soulful voice that should serve her well as she opens for the Kenny Chesney-Tim McGraw Brothers of the Sun tour. She, of course, befriended Kenny when they recorded their hit duet “You and Tequila.” They duet again on this new record (“Stars”), and Potter has another song with Willie Nelson. She’s a little bit country, yes indeedy.
NOW That’s What I Call Country Volume 5 – For the casual fan who wants some of his or her favorite radio hits on one disc. Toby Keith, Dierks Bentley, Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert … the list goes on.
Eden’s Edge, Eden’s Edge – Two girls and a guy follow in the country-pop, harmony-rich footsteps of Lady A. They’ve got a potential summertime hit with “Skinny Dippin’.” Should be played before or after Little Big Town’s “Pontoon.”