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Jimmy Wayne

Sara Smile – 2009 (Valory Music)

Reviewed by Jeff Lincoln

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CDs by Jimmy Wayne

Sometimes the third time out for an artist can mystify them, as by this point they've chosen to either clone or deconstruct their first record. So what's next? Jimmy Wayne, who sharply veered away from the deep emotional mining of his first effort to more straightforward country- pop on his second, goes the route of a hybrid collection.

There's the big leadoff (and Keith Urban-penned) Things I Believe, which swings for the number one hit fences all the way with a hook heavy guitar/banjo army on the chorus. From there, things get pretty romantic, not always successfully. The unapologetic lyric simplicity of Just Look at You will either ring your heartstrings like a church bell or have you asking where's the beef? The biggest revelation in the Sara Smile remake lies in remembering how underrated a song that is - it deserved a second look. Wayne brought in the original duo of Hall and Oates for background singing. They keep the proceedings faithful, with a bit of a slower groove and extra background plucking.

There's no fault to be found with Wayne's voice. Always focused and clean, he declines to go in either camp of a market overrun with macho baritones and breathy high-pitched boys. The Wayne back story of an abusive upbringing makes its way into how he reads a song; but he never lets go of the wheel. Unfortunately there's no Paper Angels or Do You Believe Me Now on here, but Wayne's talent (and all-star producer trio) keep him on the second Honor Roll with a B average for his third marking period.