"Paradise," the first track of Craig Morgan's self-titled debut CD, is a touching, well-crafted song about an ex-Army man. But for Morgan, it's not just a song--it's his life. Prior to becoming a professional musician, he spent years as an elite, highly decorated soldier in the U.S. Army. Morgan evidently applied some of that army discipline to his music, because this debut is an almost flawless country record.
His vocals, often reminiscent of Buck Owens and George Jones, are perfect for delivering such hard country numbers as "Hush," "When a Man Can't Get a Woman Off His Mind" and "It's Me." He's an exceptional songwriter, too, turning out finely observed meditations on home and family ("302 South Maple Avenue," "Walking In My Father's Shoes"), and, of course, the upside and downside of love, as in the giddy "Something to Write Home About," and the anguished "Everywhere I Go." Morgan's talent has attracted some big names to this project--legendary R&B guitarist Steve Cropper adds some licks to the funky "Everything's a Thing," while none other than Merle Haggard pops in for "I Wish I Could See Bakersfield," a tribute to the late songwriter Tommy Collins.