Chris Janson is a sharp singer/songwriter with an ear for commercial material, gifts that served him in good stead when he was working behind the scenes as a writer. They were also evident on Buy Me a Boat, the 2015 debut album that turned into a hit on the strength of its title song. That record seemed a little diffuse, sacrificing a distinctive personality in favor of demonstrating range. Despite a title promising that Janson wrote a song for everyone, his 2017 sequel, Everybody, fixes that problem by telegraphing strongly and clearly that he's a nice guy next door. Sometimes, Janson pushes this angle too hard, as on the unfortunate album closer, "Drunk Girl," where he appears to want to be given credit for not taking advantage of an intoxicated stranger. Cloying and judgmental (one night of boozing is painted as the equivalent of throwing a life on the floor), the ballad adds a sour concluding note to an otherwise effervescent record. Janson celebrates love of the long and short term, delivering the playful come on of "Fix a Drink" with a sly smile, but the very presence of "Bein' a Dad" is evidence he's a family man at heart. While he sings about "Redneck Life" and opens up the album asking "Who's Your Farmer," Janson never sounds particularly rural -- the surfaces of Everybody are entirely too slick, the rockers designed for arenas, not beer joints -- but in 2017, his urbanity isn't necessarily modern. There are hints of drum loops scattered throughout Everybody -- "Little Bit of Both" has a funky swing -- but he's not bothering with the R&B and hip-hop rhythms so in vogue in 2017's country-pop; he's maintaining an artful blend of Brad Paisley's cheer and Dierks Bentley's earnestness, adding just a dash of Luke Bryan's hunky swagger. Maybe portions of Everybody recall all these stars, but Janson stitches together these elements in an amiable, casual fashion that belies the sturdiness of his craft. He delivers these (mostly) sweet songs with a grin and the hooks aren't pushed, they roll easy, and these two qualities turn Everybody into a sunny, appealing album.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine