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Jason Michael Carroll

Growing Up Is Getting Old – 2009 (Arista Nashville)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by Jason Michael Carroll

Dear Jason Michael Carroll,

Congratulations on the success you enjoyed with your first album "Waitin' in the Country" as well as the first single Where I'm From off your new album. At this stage in your career, you should probably be thinking about ways to make yourself stand out from the ever-increasing crowd of the next king of country music wannabes. It's not enough to have three names (just ask Earl Thomas Conley or Jason Michael Montgomery.) Yes, the fact that you resemble Sarah Jessica Parker with an overgrown soul patch does make you stand out, but not in a good way.

That's right, Jason - the music. It should be maturing by now. But you obviously have a problem with that judging from the title of this album and the inclusion of songs like Tears, which tries to jerk the titular substance by opening and closing with a divorced dad talking on the phone to his little girl and in-between feeling oh-so-sorry for himself. When obvious attempts to emotionally manipulate the listener don't work, you resort to those old standbys sex and violence on Happened on a Saturday Night, a saloon-centric soap opera wherein lovers reunite in the aftermath of a barroom brawl. Barn Burner is nothing new either, recalling as it does the lusty rustic goings-on of Tim McGraw's Down on the Farm, but hey, at least you outdo him on the hick-hop style lyrics. How long did it take you realize that "hay lofts" "Smirnoff" and "feed trough" rhyme?

Sorry Don't Matter is a step in the right direction with a serial apologizer realizing he's finally pushed the woman in his life out of his life. And Let Me Go appears at first listen to be a break-in delivered by a guy who needs a lesson in how to let a girl down easy, but it morphs into an old-fashioned play on words tune, lacking only a denouement to make it work. We need a payoff, JM. That's what gives songs their meaning.

Hopefully, you will take this advice in the spirit in which it's given. Because there is one thing worse than growing up and getting old, and that's getting old without ever growing up.