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Punching Bag ()

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Josh Turner had number one hits prior to Haywire but that 2010 set had two chart toppers -- the swinging "Why Don't We Just Dance" and "All Over Me" -- and not long after its release, American Idol contestant (and eventual winner) Scotty McCreery patterned himself after Turner, singing his "Your Man" and "Long Black Train," pushing his idol into the spotlight. And Punching Bag, his 2012 sequel to Haywire, certainly is polished like a pop record, its surfaces bright and filled with gimmicks, all beginning with ringside announcer Michael Buffer opening the proceedings and running right through Turner's bottomless baritone dip as he sings that there's nothing "Deeper Than My Love." Turner remains a capable classic country crooner -- "Cold Shoulder" is a straight-up slice of tear-in-your-beer honky tonk, "Whatcha Reckon" is bright hooky pop, "For the Love of God" flirts with folk-flavored progressive country -- but this is country-pop pitched to the widest possible audience. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi Hide synopsis

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