Personnel: Rob McNelly, Derek Wells, Justin Ostrander (electric guitar); Scotty Sanders (steel guitar); John Willis (banjo); Tammy Rodgers, Aubrey Haynie (fiddle); Trent Willmon (harmonica, upright bass); David Dorn (piano, Wurlitzer organ, synthesizer); Steve Bryant (bass guitar); Brian Pruitt (drums, percussion); Red Marlow, Dustin Miller, Amber White (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Jack Clarke.
Photographer: Cameron Powell.
Like so many Texan country singers, Cody Johnson doesn't like to stray far from home. He's fond of hardwood honky tonk and sultry ballads that suggest another time, sounds that evoke many different eras of Texas country music. Gotta Be Me still manages to sound individualistic because Johnson imprints this album -- his fifth, and his second to make its way on the Billboard Country charts -- with a sense of personality. He's not forceful but he doesn't recede into the background, either. Johnson takes things easy, so easy that his solid songs can sometimes slip by without notice, but that's also the good thing about Gotta Be Me: it goes down easy, but further inspection reveals its sturdy construction. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine