No one could ever accuse Edwin McCain of not working hard. Lost in America, his debut on Vanguard, is his seventh album in 10 years, and he scheduled nearly 50 separate gigs between the first of March and the end of June to promote it. Several years removed from his biggest commercial hits, the drippy Hot AC ballads “I’ll Be” and the Dianne Warren-penned “I Could Not Ask For More,” McCain might benefit from slowing down long enough to come up with a plan to get his name back on radio programmers’ playlists. Because the problem with Lost in America isn’t so much that McCain’s moment has passed, it’s that there’s literally nothing about workmanlike songs like “The Kiss” or “Truly Believe” to distinguish them from the offerings of Josh Kelley, Daniel Powter, John Mayer, Bo Bice, James Blunt, Shawn Mullins, Ben Harper, and at least 15 other singer-songwriters who are in heavy rotation at Adult Top 40 and AAA radio. McCain has a better voice than Blunt or Mayer, and even his worst songs are better than the garbage on Bice’s The Real Thing, but the whole of Lost in America just sounds anonymous, produced by Noel Golden (who has worked, tellingly, with Matchbox Twenty) with such a polished, MOR roots-rock style that it seems calculated to offend the least possible number of people who might hear it at Starbucks. It’s never outright bad—though “Welcome To Struggleville,” one of the two tracks McCain didn’t co-write, comes close—but Lost in America is never more than bland, either, forgettable in a way that all but ensures that its title will turn out to be prophetic.
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