Recording information: Ben's Place Studio, Nashville, TN; Blackbird Studio, Nashville, TN; Sony Tree Studios, Nashville, TN.
Photographer: James Minchin III.
Like many a talented singer, Josh Thompson got caught up in record company politics, running through a few labels housed under a major-label umbrella before resurfacing four years later on a different label entirely. This behind-the-scenes drama explains the delay between 2010's Way Out Here and 2014's Turn It Up, but the wait works in Thompson's favor as 2014's contemporary country favors the low-key machismo that Josh offers. He's not as pop-savvy as Luke Bryan -- there are no references to T-Pain -- but he has a familiar, friendly vibe; he's the kind of guy you'd trust to take your girlfriend out for a night on the town, convinced there'd be no hanky panky. Thompson's inherent decency means that he's not quite convincing when he's turning up the amps -- the album ends with "Hank Crankin' People," a weak approximation of Eric Church's outlaw stance -- but when things are kept light, Turn It Up is pretty charming: a nice soundtrack for sunny suburban weekend afternoons. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine