Granger Smith

Remington

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Granger Smith designed Dirt Road Driveway, his 2013 album -- and his first to not be self-released -- as something of a demo tape: it was big, bright, and assured, the kind of record that functioned as a calling card for his commercial potential. Fittingly, it earned him a shot at the big time, with Wheelhouse Records, a subsidiary of Broken Bow, snapping him up and releasing Remington in March of 2016. By that point, "Backroad Song" -- a bright, cheerful slice of pop designed for sunny days -- had reached Billboard's Country Top Ten, so Smith's long-simmering desire was finally fulfilled: he became the mainstream country star he always longed to be. Smith has been working at his music so long, it's not entirely a surprise that Remington sounds just a shade behind the times in 2016, lacking any of the R&B rhythms or soul moves of Sam Hunt or Thomas Rhett. Smith certainly wouldn't be mistaken for a hairy outlaw along the lines of Chris Stapleton, either. He's a polite country boy following in the footsteps of Kenny Chesney, a guy who sounds like he's singing a ballad even when the surfaces gleam and the tempo quickens...or when he sings about tractors, for that matter. Such amiability means Remington has its charms even when it tends to rework the same territory. Nothing here really rocks -- if anything, the album is more likely to slide into a slow dance, as it does on the Brooke Eden duet "Crazy as Me" -- but nothing here flirts with vulgarity, either, which means Smith is something of a throwback himself: he's a reminder of how pop-country sounded in the years between Garth Brooks and bro-country.

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