It’s a clever title for Easton Corbin’s sophomore release: All Over the Road. The title track is also a bit clever lyrically, as Corbin tries to explain to a police officer that his erratic driving was due to his girlfriend’s hand on his knee.
But the irony is that, despite the catchy title and song, and even the second track and lead single “Lovin’ You Is Fun,” this record is decidedly not all over the road. In fact, it stays so far inside the lines as to make it fairly forgettable as soon as the music stops.
It may surprise some of my readers for me to be saying this, given that Easton Corbin has already gained himself a reputation as a neo-traditionalist, often drawing comparisons to icons like George Strait. I’m an old-school country guy, so if any style is going to be “right up my alley,” it would seem like Corbin would have it in spades.
But just because a record has a traditional country sound, that doesn’t mean it should rest in the well-trodden ruts of music that has come before it. Other country artists try to break out of that rut by crossing genres, while others succeed in breaking new musical ground without losing that country sound. All Over the Road, unfortunately, does neither. It just kind of sits there.
Now, to be fair, this isn’t a “bad” record. The production value is high, it’s apparent that the musicians are top-shelf, and the songs are well-crafted. It’s just that there isn’t anything new here, either musically or lyrically. This album would have done really well 20 years ago. Even thematically, Corbin doesn’t stray far from the beaten path. The song titles say it all: “Hearts Drawn In the Sand,” “Dance Real Slow,” “This Feels a Lot Like Love”—these are pretty much all run-of-the-mill love songs, like we’ve heard hundreds of times before. As it turns out, the first two tracks mentioned above are the only songs I’m hearing on this record that show much promise—but beyond that, the promise remains unfulfilled.
So don’t get me wrong here—Easton Corbin is right up my alley style-wise, and I like him because he does sound country. But country can be current without losing its identity, as acts like The Band Perry continue to prove. Corbin is a newer artist who shows a lot of promise for a long, productive career; he’s just got to find a way to stand out, to define himself. All Over the Road is not his breakout record; it just sounds too much like everyone else.