Easton Corbin may be more country than most, but that factor alone doesn’t guarantee his music is particularly essential. This point is especially driven home with All Over the Road, which is a pleasant, yet relatively uneventful new release.
Corbin has a casual, easygoing singing voice, which brings to mind George Strait at its best. Corbin’s Strait-isms are especially moved to the forefront during “Lovin’ You Is Fun,” which also requires the vocalist to rapidly spit out its words in key segments. The main difference between Strait and Corbin, however, is that Strait sings every song with undeniable authority; he simply makes every syllable believable. Corbin, though, just hasn’t earned such vocal authority.
If Corbin were a beer maker, he’d only distribute a light brand. This is because nothing the man sings is particularly deep, lyrically. There aren’t really any sad songs, and this CD doesn’t have a body count because no mammas or babies died during the making it. “That’s Gonna Leave a Memory” is about as heavy as this album gets, which is not too weighty at all. Even though Corbin sincerely sings post breakup words, the beat is still relatively jaunty and carefree. You might find yourself noting, ‘Ah, that’s too bad,’ after listening through it, but you likely won’t ever shed tear one.
The album’s title track lyrically draws a comparison between the way love affects a guy, and how alcohol causes drivers to drive recklessly. Is this really something to joke about? Granted, alcohol and country music have forever been inebriated bosom buddies. Even so, the M.A.D.D folks probably won’t chuckle along with Corbin’s tune.
Corbin states his relaxed tone intentions most explicitly during “Lovin’ You Is Fun” when he admonishes, “It’s alright to keep it light now mamma.”That’s true. It’s perfectly fine to keep the mood upbeat and drama-free. Such an approach, though, causes the listener to take Corbin lightly, as well, which is certainly not the performer’s intention.
Although a broken relationship — like the kind sung about during “That’s Gonna Leave a Memory” — might leave lasting scars, this latest Corbin album simply doesn’t leave much of a lasting impression. Corbin has a good voice, and these 11 songs are all average, to better than average. Yet very little stands out. It’s almost as though the listener is drinking Corbin light beer while eating Chinese food because one’s stomach starts grumbling again before even finishing it.
Country music traditionalists will likely champion Corbin’s current catalogue entry, as it sticks closely to standard country music elements. There’s plenty of fiddle and other acoustic instrumental accoutrement’s. That’s all well and good. Yet these ears would rather hear a hoedown with a synthesizer prominent part if the lyric was memorable, to be completely blunt, rather than a milk toast standard country arrangement without any real meat between the slices. Unfortunately, Corbin has given us a nice little effort that will elicit half-hearted smiles, but little real joy.
It would have been much better if Corbin had been all over the road, stylistically speaking, instead of moving precisely at the speed limit, right smack in the middle of the road. Sunday drives aren’t a bad thing. They’re just not very exciting.