Anonymous in exactly the same way that so many Music Row debuts are, Jace Everett runs the risk of falling into the current generation’s dogpile of B-list male vocalists—the Blake Sheltons and Keith Andersons of country music, rather than the Tim McGraws or Keith Urbans. Long term, it’s not an awful place to be—Neal McCoy and Tracy Lawrence still land regular gigs and the occasional Top 40 country hit, almost a decade removed from their time at the top of that second tier—in that it guarantees work and promises a higher standard of living than the bar circuit. Artistically, though, it’s a certain kind of dead end. For Everett, the problem seems to be a disconnect between his delivery and his production. On a few of the album’s uptempo cuts, Everett genuinely pushes his likable if somewhat limited voice to its ragged edges, suggesting that he might sound more comfortable—and certainly more distinctive from acts like Anderson and Shooter Jennings—without having those edges completely buffed away by Mark Wright and Greg Droman’s uninspired production choices. Even the one track, lead single “Bad Things,” that should boast an original sound baits an unfavorable comparison, coming off as a poor imitation of the songs on Chris Isaak’s Forever Blue. The songs on which he’s credited as co-writer that form the latter half of the album are more memorable than what precedes them, and closer “Between A Father And A Son” is legitimately good. So there’s at least a hint of promise that Everett, if he can get away from producers hellbent on as middlebrow a mainstream country sound as they can muster, can build a more impressive name for himself than does this self-titled debut effort.
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