While appearing on the ninth season of American Idol (in 2010), Casey James showed not only an affinity for country and southern rock but also showcased his “mad skill” on the guitar. Blessed with the kind of silky, smooth and pliable voice that most any artist would ‘kill for,’ Casey maneuvered through the TV show to end up third place behind winner Lee DeWyze and runner up Crystal Bowersox. While both of those artists had their music rushed for a fall 2010 release, Casey was granted a little bit of A&R time and growth once he signed his contract with 19/BNA Records. It was a smart decision to let Casey James come to Nashville, live and work amongst the community here and because of this, his debut album doesn’t ever feel like a rushed product.
Featuring the lead single “Let’s Don’t Call It A Night,” Casey James is an album that showcases everything that made the handsome guitar slinger so popular on American Idol. There are the romantic songs like “So Sweet,” lead single “…Night,” “Love The Way You Miss Me,” and “Undone.” Then there are rockers like “Drive,” “The Good Life,” “Tough Love” and “She’s Money.” All of these songs showcase a man who is equally adept at ‘typical’ country album fare. Of these songs, the “So Sweet” and “She’s Money” stand out as likely future singles while the albums two best tracks close out the record. “Workin’ On It” shows off Casey James roots as a disciple of Doyle Bramhall II and Stevie Ray Vaughan (and it’s the only time on the record where he’s able to really let loose and show off his bluesy guitar chops – Drive showcases his considerable slide/Dobro skills). The album’s closer is co-written by album co-producer Chris Lindsey, his wife Aimee Mayo and Casey (who co-wrote all but two songs on the album. “Miss Your Fire” is a slow-burning ballad about a guy who is lamenting the loss of the one of his life. Vocally, the song is a stunning showcase for Casey’s vocal and while he has a natural ‘timbre’ to his voice, here that’s smoothed out and results are a passionate, melancholic performance that leaves the listener wanting more than the 11 tracks on the album.
Loaded with potential singles, Casey James is the kind of record that shows that American Idol does help talented artists find their way, if they’re given time to grow. It also helps prove my theory that most of the singers on the show would do well to try their hand at being country singers as the genre is not only the biggest radio genre but the fans in country music world are intensely loyal and likely to continue to follow artists who they really like, thus helping to keep the amount of “one hit wonders” lower than the Top 40/pop world. All of that said, an artist still has to have the talent and the ability to persevere and that’s exactly what Casey James has and proves with ease with this well-written, strongly-produced debut album. Here’s hoping he continues to build an audience as modern country radio could use an artist like Casey James in their regular rotation.
Potential singles: “So Sweet,” “Miss Your Fire,” “Workin’ On it” “She’s Money” “The Good Life” and “Crying On A Suitcase.”
Buy: Amazon | Amazon CD | iTunes (Links provided on Tuesday March 20).