Granger Smith

Dirt Road Driveway

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Granger Smith makes music as if there's no other option than reaching the top of the charts. If he was on Universal, Sony, or BMG, perhaps this gusto could be easily understood, but with 2013's Dirt Road Driveway, he's stuck on an indie shooting for the big-time, a tricky proposition he almost pulls off due to his unquestionable sincerity. This may be released on an independent, but there is nothing independent in the spirit of Dirt Road Driveway; essentially, it's an audition tape, a record cut with hopes that at some point, somewhere, somebody will choose Smith and give him a ticket to the big time. He does have many qualities that would suit him well on a larger playing field: he's an amiable, friendly singer, one who's easy to warm to, and his melodies welcome listeners with open arms, as do his lyrics, which are ever so desperate to play to the biggest audience imaginable. Smith isn't reigned in with his smaller budget -- really, anything here could be heard on contemporary country radio without much trouble, probably because it emphasizes melody and feel over virtuosity in either composition or execution -- and he winds up with a very likeable record that adheres to the middle of the road, never pushing too hard for fear of possible alienation. Smith's appeal is how he seems like the guy next door but it's also his Achilles heel -- he seems like any old good old boy who might cross your way, which is reason enough to like him, but there's no hook to make you remember him.

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