'Crickets' is a fine way to describe Joe Nichols' new album. The singer aims for a relax-on-the-riverbank vibe with many of the mid-tempo cuts on this project. The album begins and ends with crickets ( literally), and in between it offers a fairly level ride.

The love songs showcase Nichols' pure country voice. 'Better Than Beautiful' feels like it could have been written for the singer's wife, Heather. "The only thing that compares to what we have / Is little mini-me, mini-you running 'round calling me Dad," Nichols sings during the soft ballad.

He takes few risks, but finds room for a few safe, eyebrow-raising jokes. The rowdy 'Hee Haw' is most noteworthy, but 'Y'ant To' and 'Open Up a Can' will also appeal to the reddest of rednecks. The latter is an anthem that's easy imagine fans singing along to during concerts.

The 16 songs on 'Crickets' explore a number of themes, but aside from 'Footlights,' all snuggle neatly into what one expects from the never-failing Nichols. Nothing about the album is going to get your heart racing, but then again, nothing will push you into a three-minute depression, either.

Tracks to Remember: 'Better Than Beautiful,' ''Old School Country Song,' 'Crickets'

Show Me What?: Fans of 'Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off' may love 'Hee Haw,' a song heavy in euphemism. "She me your bush hawg / I'll show you my John Deere / Show me your corn field / I'll show you my low gear ... Show me your yee haw / I'll show you my hee haw," Nichols sings.

Did You Know?: 'Footlights' -- the most emotional song on 'Crickets' -- is a Merle Haggard cover that Joe Nichols has been singing since he was a child. It was also a favorite of his father Mike, who passed away over a decade ago, just as his son's career was beginning to take off.