Personnel: Granger Smith (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keyboards, percussion, background vocals); Danny Rader, Brian Sutton (acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin); Derek Wells (electric guitar, mandolin); Frank Rogers (electric guitar, drum programming); Jerry MacPherson, Geoff Ashcraft, Kenny Greenburg, Todd Howard, Rob McNelley (electric guitar); Chad Jeffers, Mike Johnson (dobro); Carl Miner, Milo Deering (mandolin); Mitch Connell, Gordon Mote (piano); Dusty Saxton (drums, snare drum, keyboard programming, drum programming); Jerry Roe (drums, percussion); Michael Holleman, Shannon Forrest (drums); Eric Darken (percussion); Chris Lee, Amber Smith, Brooke Eden, Wes Hightower (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Justin Niebank.
Recording information: Beech Greek Studio; Granger's House; Sound Emporium; The Castle; The Poolhouse.
Photographer: Eric Ryan Anderson.
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. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine