‘Music can unite us, music can heal us, for all that believe this…thank You.’ – A message left at the end of a video that Granger Smith himself posted, after proving what a ‘Good Guy’ he really is and driving 2 hours out of his way to go and meet a fan who couldn’t make it to a pop up shop in Ohio. Country Music, heck the world in general, needs more people like this guy right here. He practices what he preaches and has a deep, real appreciation for his fans.
‘When the Good Guys Win’ is Smith’s ninth studio album and his second with Broken Bow subsidiary, Wheelhouse Records. The album debuted on the US iTunes chart at No.7 and rose to No.6 overnight.
For this project, he decided to use outside writers for nearly half of the tracks on the record. The whole album was made whilst he was out on the road, where Smith had writers come out to him and it was a no pressure environment of hanging out and writing something, when they had it. Speaking to Rolling Stone on the matter, Granger said;
Some of my great friends came out and they would stay on the bus with me and ride for four or five days and we would write. Almost every time I did that, one group or one guy would have something that they’d just written. It needed to have a story that I could be the spokesman of, and I loved taking on that new responsibility, saying, “You guys have a message, and I want to be the guy that tells it to the world.”
Opening up the project with Gimme Something, I’m getting that summer night, back road driving vibe.
Gimme something that’ll take her breath away
And make her think that Heaven’s right here right now
Something that’ll get those eyes looking at me like
She’s falling harder than the stars tonight
Sweet, upbeat and hopeful, the track sets the scene for what is to come from most of the record.
The title track When the Good Guys Win, follows in the same vein and is the kind of song that everyone can relate to. We all love to hear that the underdog has come up trumps and taken the glory.
Don’t you love it when the good guys win
Don’t you love it when a ship comes in
Yeah man, every now and then
What goes around, comes around again
A simple song, without the façade of outlandish lyrics and over production… Keeping it real and in true country style, with that slight pop edge and light backing vocal.
It doesn’t need the whole glittery shebang. But then…
Granger’s alter ego ‘Earl Dibbles Jr’ makes an appearance on the album in the hard-hitting Don’t Tread on Me and mixes things up a bit. Earl is probably my favourite side of Smith; he brings out the deeper, dirt kickin’, redneck style that I LOVE to hear.
I’m a survivor, you’re damn right I’m a fighter
I’m a big buck skinnin’, trotline riggin’ Hank Jr disciple
So don’t you be offended, what granddaddy defended
This flag I’m wavin’ says I’m stayin’ free
Don’t tread on me, no
Tasty bassline, banjo accents and some heavy electric guitar, with some filth on there? Perfect! He stays true to who he is with both this and Reppin’ My Roots, although the latter has a totally different sound.
Reppin’ has that FGL type of smooth, mainstream pop sound… where DTOM is a bit more reminiscent of the likes of Blackjack Billy, maybe even leaning toward Southern Rock.
Sticking with the harder-hitting, more poignant songs on the record, we have Everybody Lives. This song does hit you right in the feels… heartfelt, simple and maybe even sombre. It is one of those tracks that if you listen to it late at night, laid on the couch, contemplating the universe… you will really connect with his message. Don’t let life pass you by, the little things count and we need to take head of the things that we are presented with. Some people spend so much time trying to chase and create the perfect life, that they forget to live. This track reminds you just how important that is.
Everybody’s got a future
But not everybody makes it past
Everybody’s got a chance to take that some don’t take
Till it’s too late to take it back
On the whole, I do like the album and there are some lovely songs on it. My only issue is that 80% of it sounds exactly the same. Don’t get me wrong, Granger has a smooth, settling voice and he could probably sing me to sleep, but I look for something that’s going to grab me and wake me right up. The up-beat part of this record is fabulous, but most of it just sounds the same.
It is commercially pleasing and I can see why tracks like ‘Happens Like That’ do well on Country Radio. It just lacks that grabbing point that makes me, personally, connect with the artist. Granger seems like a totally humble guy, that loves each and every single fan for their support and he is dedicated to his music, but this album could have been so much more than it is.