If you look back over Granger Smith's early album covers, you'll find that he presented himself as a hat act. Sonically he's come a long way since those efforts, with his latest album 'Dirt Road Driveway' falling squarely in the singer-songwriter sub-genre of country music. It's an album that would sound best at a coffee house, not a honky tonk. 

'Dirt Road Driveway' is a baseball hat kind of record -- familiar, comfortable, easy to find and malleable to your needs. The first 10 songs find the Texan looking inward for inspiration before he introduces the rowdy redneck Earl Dibbles Jr. for 'Country Boy Love' and 'The Country Boy Song.' Both of these fun bonus tracks enhance a remarkably consistent collection of love and life songs.

Lyrically, songs like '19 Forever' and 'Stick Around' stand above the rest on the album's first half, although there isn't a single misfire. "I remember the time you asked me for a ride and if I could teach you how to drive stick / You burned through the clutch and I burned to touch every tan line wrapping your skin," Smith sings on '19 Forever,' an uptempo rocker about young love. Like a great movie director his choices bring us right into the moment and allow us to feel his urgency, sorrow or satisfaction.

'I am the Midnight' leans too far toward the middle to truly appreciate; all things considered, this is a fairly mainstream project, which is meant as a compliment. 'Stick Around' and 'If Money Didn't Matter' have more heart and emotion than most of what's on country radio, and their arrangements take few chances. The former is a quasi-circle of life type of song that fills you up like Grandma's meatloaf.

Later on the project, 'Easy' is something of a dud -- perhaps only because that title and the melodic line in the chorus are too similar to songs by Sheryl Crow and especially Rascal Flatts. One track begins to slide into the next by this point, with the most distinguishable moments up front.

Perhaps Smith never hits another peak on 'Dirt Road Driveway,' but there's nothing other than professional, well-written country songs on the back half. Blue jeans and automobiles are themes that reoccur, but neither too frequently. Instead, they help frame the overall spirit of this blue-collar record.