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Mark Wills

And The Crowd Goes Wild – 2003 (Mercury)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Mark Wills

With his latest, Mark Wills stands up for the underdog on the title track, feels pity for the brokenhearted through the words of "He's A Cowboy" and salutes hard working truckers with "Prisoner Of The Highway." It sure reads like a guide to being all things to all people.

But instead of acting as a sincere communication with the world's increasingly diverse music fan universe, it actually plays out like a paint-by-numbers attempt to touch all the basic country music demographic groups. And since Wills didn't have a hand in writing a single track here, one gets the distinct impression that marketing, rather than inspiration, played the largest part in this album's song selection. Wills is not a bad performer; he's just not anything particularly special. Aurally, this is a collection of Nashville-colored soft rock, for the most part. The album closes with "Singer In A Band," which exposes some of the myths of pop music stardom. At one point, its lyric compares singing music with the dangerous jobs of NY firemen on 9/11 and states: "But when it comes to heroes/know that I'm just a singer in a band." Yet while it's true that singers aren't exactly superheroes, many have accomplished much more with their entertainment platforms than Mark Wills has done here. To which the crowd goes, 'blah.'