Strangely, it’s possible to take Joe Nichols’ unassuming album titles to heart. He celebrated Real Things in 2007, found Old Things New in 2009, and now, two years later and after his first greatest-hits collection, he’s decided that It’s All Good and this, his sixth major-label effort, certainly does roll along on his casual charm. Nichols never pushes hard and that easy touch is winning, particularly when the guitars are cranked, pushing the album close to rocking country.
If an album as consistently strong as 2009’s Old Things New wasn’t enough to lift Joe Nichols off of Nashville’s B list, the relatively middling It’s All Good suggests that maybe he’s simply destined to remain a second-string artist. There are worse ways to spend a career, and if It’s All Good doesn’t build on its predecessor’s maturity in any meaningful way, it at least offers a couple of obvious choices for singles that should keep Nichols on country radio playlists for another year or two. With his robust baritone, distinctive sense of phrasing, and strong neo-traditionalist instincts, Nichols is actually one of contemporary country music’s better vocalists.