"American Idol" season 10 winner Scotty McCreery is ready for you to take notice on his newly released "See You Tonight" record (Oct. 15). As the follow up to his major label debut "Clear As Day" (now a platinum set), he ventures to showcase a more mature sound, tapping into the mainstream's affinity for pop and hip-hop influences. Boasting 16 tracks, he makes sure not to stray too far from his traditional roots, adding healthy doses of steel guitar, fiddle and guitar.
What "See You Tonight" does, quite remarkably, is pinpoint exactly where Scotty fits in the current radio landscape. His youthful exhuberance pours through, and his vocal phrasing is vastly improved. He co-wrote five of the album's tracks, sharpening his growing skillset as a true artist. On the songs he didn't have a hand in creating, he shows that he has an ear for great material.
Fun, youthful, cool and contemporary are just a handful of words that could be used to describe "See You Tonight." He takes the components that worked marvelously from his major label debut (namely, his thoughtful storytelling) and mixes in some fun-loving summer tunes for a much-needed balance. There is nothing wrong with having a few uptempo songs (like "Feelin' It" and the groovy "Buzzin'") that do nothing more than make you want to roll the windows down. The key is having a hearty harmony of deep, meaninful tracks, such as the tender "Feel Good Summer Song" (the best song on the entire collection) and "Forget To Forget You."
I've never heard Scotty have so much fun as he does on the record. From the rock-edged opening "Now" to one of his finest ballads to-date ("Get Gone With You"), he embraces his age — a 20-something trying to navigate the go-go world of relationships and adulthood. He is markedly more appealing here, too, shining through on the saucy "I Don't Wanna Be Your Friend" and particularly stunning on the "Carolina Moon" lullaby, featuring vocals from the ethereal Alison Krauss.
While Scotty might enjoy a few parties, trucks and tailgates himself, he doesn't end the set without addressing the heated country music debate. On "Something More," he pleads that he's "heard every line there is about a truck." But her proposes that sometimes "a summer song sounds good when you're on the shore, but every now and then, I want to dig and hear something that means something more." Yes, Scotty, that pretty much sums it up. There's nothing wrong with summer songs on their own merits, but when that's all country music listeners are spoonfed, there's something wrong. Kudos!
Other gems: "Blue Jean Baby," "Feelin' It," "Carolina Eyes"
Overall Grade: B+
Don't forget to grab your copy on iTunes.
Photo Courtesy of Mercury Records