We Weren’t Crazy

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The hits from Josh Gracin’s 2004 self-titled debut—“I Want to Live,” with its Led Zeppelin groove; the fast-talking “Nothin’ to Lose”; and the frankly sensual “Stay With Me (Brass Bed)”—were all a little unusual for country radio. Clearly, thinking outside the box worked for him.

So it’s a tad disappointing that the long-delayed follow-up, We Weren’t Crazy, spends most of its time safely inside the box. It’s full of well-crafted songs that Josh sings splendidly, but its best tracks are also its least characteristic: “Favorite State of Mind” is a hard charger that veers perilously close to punk rock (released way back in 2006 as Crazy’s first single, it undeservedly stalled at No. 19), while the defiant “Livin’ It Up” boasts a chorus full of nifty melodic curlicues. We Weren’t Crazy is a solid enough sophomore effort, but it gives reason to hope that next time Josh will simply ignore the box altogether.

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