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Josh Turner, ‘Punching Bag’ – Album Review

Punching Bag
MCA Nashville

Josh Turner‘s booming bass voice has never sounded better than on songs from his fifth studio album ‘Punching Bag,’ in stores June 12. However, it’s not enough to lift many of the tracks past mediocre.

‘Punching Bag’ lacks sizzle. There’s no moment during the 11 songs (not counting the Michael Buffer introduction) that will leave an old southern biddy fanning her neck or reaching for a cold glass of sweet tea. Turner is so good at bouncing between the most honest and sincere Christian country songs — ‘I Was There’ is a smash — and those that make a Baptist woman blush. But there’s a hole no amount of deep growling can fill.

A few songs, like the title-track, come across as cynical or even angry. It’s hard to believe Turner as a ‘Punching Bag.’ It’s a sharp lyric, and the production is world class (as it is for every song), but the pairing is a mismatch. Later, the chipper bluegrass cut ‘For the Love of God’ (featuring Ricky Skaggs) has this less than huggable verse:

Some people only want to have a good time / Drinkin’, carrying on / They get behind the wheel and the next thing you know / Somebody’s child is gone.” This isn’t a enjoyable country song as much as it is a man preaching from the honky-tonk.

Lighter fare like ‘Whatcha Reckon,’ ‘Find Me a Baby’ and ‘Good Problem’ join the single ‘Time Is Love’ as highlights on ‘Punching Bag.’ The first two on this list are as sweet as ‘Why Don’t We Just Dance,’ a song that still sounds perfect on repeat. Listen for Turner’s kids to appear on ‘Find Me a Baby,’ a song which is sure to be a great live singalong moment.

‘Punching Bag’ is a very traditional collection of songs. The crying fiddle and steel guitar on ‘Cold Shoulder’ could have come from any era in country music, but Turner’s contemporary delivery makes the story very relevant. Like many of the others, this song is good… but not memorable.

Top 10 Josh Turner Songs

3 Stars

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