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James Otto

Days of Our Lives – 2004 (Mercury)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by James Otto

"Days of Our Lives" is not based on the long-running soap opera, but some of the lyrics herein are almost as trite as the long-lost-evil-twin-sibling plotline. There's the requisite nostalgia for the young and restless days of "Misspent Youth," the wrestling with passions on "Miss Temptation" and "Lowdown on the High Life."

"She Knows" is a retread of Garth's "If Tomorrow Never Comes" that is neither bold nor beautiful, and "The Ball" channels another Brooks ballad ("Unanswered Prayers.") It's supposed to be sweet that the guy is happy he blew the big game and wound up with his wife instead of the head cheerleader, but as entries in this sub-genre tend to do, it sounds more like a guy who really needs to grow up and let go of the past.

On the plus side, Otto has a nice baritone capable of genuine power. "Song of the Violin" is a sweet golden anniversary ballad that Otto almost carries off despite his youth. (But could we please just once compare the dubious joys of aging to something other than a fiddle?) You gotta feel for the guy in "Gone" whose sensibilities turn to the poetic after getting dumped by his girlfriend, and "If It's The Last Thing I Do" is a hard-to-resist rocker. Otto really doesn't quite have the vocal maturity to pull off the title track either but he makes it a winner with sheer exuberance and showmanship.

So while "Days of Our Lives" doesn't exactly have what it takes to be a long-running smash hit in the ratings, there's enough potential here that we can be sure it won't take James Otto as long to win an award as it took Susan Lucci. Tune in again soon for the next exciting episode.