The first thing you’ll notice about “Roads That Go Nowhere” is Travis Denning’s voice. He proves on the opener “That’s Why I’m Drinking” that he’s up there with Chris Stapleton in the singing stakes.

It’s sensational.

Look, you know the drill. She’s left him, he’s in a bar. Who cares when it’s this good? And this is exceptional.

At this point, I’ll declare bias. I am sitting writing this in a Blackberry Smoke tour shirt. I am pre-disposed to like “southern rock”, and as such I am fully familiar with the idea of how it sounds – as Denning puts it himself in “I Know How It Sounds”. It sounds glorious.

It also underlines the real crossover potential here. If Black Stone Cherry fans will be rocking out, then he’s equally adept at modern country on “Strawberry Wine And A Cheap Six Pack”, or reflective balladry on “Going Places”.

The lyrical themes here are your tried and tested, and that’s cool. You aren’t after this to reinvent the wheel, you want it to remind you of the one that got away as it does on “Someone That Isn’t Me” and you want it to have you rocking out like it does on well, “Southern Rock”.

That one has Hardy on, and it’s a beauty. When the chorus hits, if you have loved these sounds since last week or 1983 when you decided you wanted to be in ZZ Top when you were eight years old (guess which is MV) then it’s got you.

If there’s the odd guest, then it is striking that 13 of these 15 are co-written by Denning. One of the ones that isn’t, “Things I’m Going Through” still has the class, and when he writes from the heart, like on the title track, then I am being serious, this type of thing won’t be better this year.

The blue-collar sweat is real here. “Sound Of A Beer Getting Cracked” is fun and chilled, “Here And Her” chugs its way through another heartbreak and the everyman feel to this stretches all the way to the end of “Ocmulgee River”, which as ever, proves that all roads leads to home.

That waterway in Georgia of 255 miles carries the hopes and dreams here, but when all is said and done, everything on “Roads That Go Nowhere” is going right to the very, very top.

Rating 9/10

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