The road to Hell is paved with good intentions — and the road to mediocre country-rock records is paved with steel guitars, plaintive drawls, and lyrics about one-horse towns.

Make that the dusty road, actually; that’s another of the hackneyed lines that Trevor Alguire drags out on Now Before Us, an exceedingly pleasant but in no way essential collection of down-home beer-drinkin’ music. Alguire’s got a fine voice, reminiscent of Radney Foster’s, and Now Before Us benefits from a terrific band — particularly guitarist, backup singer, and mandolin player Giles LeClerc, whose work livens up one of the album’s best tracks, “Pen a Man Down.” But too often, Alguire is content to treat his songs like horseshoes, tossing them just near enough the mark to make for decent jukebox fare. A painfully generic country ballad like “What Lies” might be worth a quarter between drinks, but that’s about it.

The real shame of it all is that, aside from his charm as a vocalist, Alguire occasionally shows a flash of real songwriting talent; he begins “Beautiful Night” with the killer line “‘Round about the time I saved your ass from drowning that night,” proving he knows how to tell a story when he wants to. With a few more songs like that one — and production that doesn’t wipe all the dirt from under their fingernails — all those good intentions might lead someplace worth sticking around.

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About the Author

Jeff Giles

Jeff Giles is the founder and editor-in-chief of Popdose and Dadnabbit, as well as an entertainment writer whose work can be seen at Rotten Tomatoes and a number of other sites. Hey, why not follow him at Twitter while you're at it?

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