Editors’ Notes Granger Smith had a good, long run in the independent Texas country scene circuit before he achieved mainstream Nashville visibility with his 2015 hit “Backroad Song.” The singer, songwriter, and producer often comes at contemporary country’s familiar depictions of down-home masculinity from a slightly different angle, thanks to his balmy vocal delivery and the flashes of slapstick self-awareness in his alter ego Earl Dibbles Jr. After the tragic drowning death of his young son in 2019, Smith regrouped and redoubled his focus on core country themes, collecting eight new songs on Country Things, Vol. 1. There’s measured sentimentality to “I Kill Spiders,” his ballad depicting a sense of fatherly duty; “Heroes,” his toast to those making a humble, human impact on the job; and “That’s Why I Love Dirt Roads,” his anthem to finding spiritual sustenance in rural settings. (Not to mention the usual exaggerated bluster to his Dibbles appearance in “Country & Ya Know It.”) But the beat-driven breakup tune “Hate You Like I Love You” suggests fresh bitterness and other messy emotions.

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