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Album Review: “That’s Why” by Craig Morgan

November 28, 2008

That's Why3.5 Stars

 

 

Earlier this year Craig Morgan made a risky decision to separate from his first record label, Broken Bow Records, for a shot with the big boys by joining the much more commercially involved BNA records. He released his first project from the label, his fourth studio album That’s Why, a few months later.

As you would expect, the name showcases that Craig attempted to incorporate his new-found confidence in himself through a bigger label to show listeners why he was offered a position among the label’s larger artists like Kenny Chesney and Kellie Pickler. In doing so Craig managed to pull together a collection of songs that makes for a great listen and a decent collection of meaningful and relative material…but if there is one thing this album teaches both Craig and his listeners it’s that sometimes having good material isn’t as effective as having flawless material to go with that star in your eyes.

That’s not to say this album has nothing really significant to offer, far from it actually. This collection of new music actually brings together some of the best Craig has had to offer throughout his career. The opening track, and first single, “Love Remembers” is a great example of this. It serves as a nice introduction to the album because it showcases both the power in Craig’s voice and the sincerity in his performance as he tackles the haunting memory that love leaves behind. In addition you have the title tracks “That’s Why”. Another solid performance helps Craig relate to the blue collar family man by explaining how their family, especially their children, is the reason why blue collar workers, doing hard labor for barely anything at all, are working so hard at jobs they hate.

Some of Craig’s better sentimental material is here as well. “Lookin’ Back With You” takes a rather different approach than past singers on the concept of long lasting love by focusing on what it will be like to look back with your significant other rather than actually doing it. “God Must Really Love Me” is also a unique song in its own right while also focusing on a rather cliche concept of the rebel realising his reckless lifestyle and coming to grips with it. In the process of doing this the character in the song realizes that even though he has been reckless and careless God must really love him because he has blessed him with some of the greatest gifts he could ask for.

So with so much great material what could possibly be degrading on this project?

Aside from the above mentioned tracks the rest of the project contains rather decent songs, but they lack the push or feel to really make any mark on both radio or Craig’s career. Some come off as boring while others underdone. “It Takes A Woman” has a rather sly message explaining how despite the things that seem to make a boy into a man, it took a woman to really make this transformation happen, however the track lacks much interest even with Craig’s emotional power behind it. On that same note is the closing track, the powerful “Ordinary Angels”. The song is great, the message explaining how ordinary people can be saviors as well, but despite the power it comes off as rather ineffective or at least less effective than it should be.

Even Craig’s “redneck material” is easy to look over. The highly anticipated “Sticks” has the same romping beat to it as “International Harvester” but not nearly as many production tricks or comedic cliches behind it to make it work as well. In addition “Every Red Light”, which advertises having fun in a small town when you hit the red light in your car, comes off the same way, enjoyable but not nearly as effective as it could have been.

Normally the critical stance would be that an album is overproduced or too loud or even to noisy, but in reality this project isn’t quite produced, loud or noisy enough. Craig has a great voice and great power to back him up, aspects he shows off in every single one of these tracks, and every song here has the potential to be a hit. However it would be a huge stretch to declare that all of them have the potential to make it to the top ten, let alone to #1. Craig managed to bring together some very good material with his longtime production partner Phil O’Donnell, it just fails to carry much strength through the entirety of the project. Still if Craig can keep this up and find the right mix in both song choice and production, he may have what it takes to match his label mates.

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