Written by Marc Beeson and Daniel Tashian
In an alternate universe, Josh Turner should be square in the middle of a long string of neo-traditionalist hit songs and albums. His baritone was tailor-made for a country song, more so than just about any other male singer in recent memory. Unfortunately, Turner just wasn’t made for these times in country music, where his vocal skills and traditional leanings aren’t appreciated. He hasn’t released a new album or had a hit song since 2012, and when he does introduce a new single to radio, it’s a bland copy of the same “country girl” song that’s made the rounds all too often over the last three years.
As amazing as the “Hometown Girl” is supposed to be, we learn nothing about her through the course of the song. It’s established that she looks good and has nice hair. It’s clear that she’s from Downhomeville and prefers the country to the city. At some point in time, she went to high school. Annnnnd… that’s about it. Turner sings about “lookin’ all over the world for a pretty little homegrown, hometown girl.” If his requirements are only that she needs to be from the country and be pretty, he hasn’t been looking very hard.
Admittedly, this is a three-and-a-half minute song, so it’s not like the writers (Marc Beeson, Daniel Tashian) have time to come up with a full character sketch. Still, this mystery woman has no quirk, no flaw, no characteristic that makes her stand out in the slightest from the girl dancing on a tailgate in a Luke Bryan song or making love in a Jason Aldean song. With lyrics so generic, it’s up to Turner’s vocal performance to make “Hometown Girl” stand out. He sounds great, as he almost always does, even if the verses have the talk-sing rap cadence that is featured on so many singles.
Turner makes “Hometown Girl” better than it has any right to be, but he can only do so much to pull the song out of mediocrity. Josh Turner’s return to country radio would be a welcome development, but it would have been even better if he was given something worth singing.