Jumping To Country

Former Army paratrooper Craig Morgan makes an impressive debut with this collection of mostly first-rate country songs.

Morgan is a strong, baritone-voiced performer very much in the Merle Haggard tradition. In fact, Haggard sings backup here on "I Wish I Could See Bakersfield" (RealAudio excerpt), a tribute by co-producer Buddy Cannon to Haggard's late friend and songwriter Tommy Collins.

Morgan is himself an above-average songwriter (he co-wrote seven of the 11 cuts here), proving it on the standout "302 South Maple Avenue" (Real Audio excerpt), a lovely paean to the white picket-fence way of life.

With his pleasant voice and Army sergeant clean-cut looks, Craig Morgan could turn into an all-around country entertainer.