Regular Joe

Newcomer Joe Diffie scored four No. 1 hits on his debut, A Thousand Winding Roads, largely by sounding like his heroes, George Jones, Buck Owens, and Merle Haggard. On this follow-up, Regular Joe, Diffie has the confidence to sing in his natural voice, a supple tenor that stretches all the way to Alaska. That decision serves him well on a barn-burning set of songs celebrating the trials and the triumphs of the common man, from the scared exhilaration of new bachelorhood (the Jimmie Rodgers-flavored ”Startin’ Over Blues”) to the joys of being ”Just a Regular Joe” with the guys and a brew. The material will never be confused with thinking man’s country since it punches all the predictable thematic buttons, from family ties to dead soldiers, but surprises also abound, including Diffie’s headed-for-superstardom energy and his ability to mine a tough nugget of emotion (”Ain’t That Bad Enough,” ”Next Thing Smokin”’). Look for this former foundry worker to give Garth Brooks a hard time at the top. B+

Regular Joe
  • Music