Former high school football star-turned-country musician Chad Brock has one of those throaty, heart-of-gold voices evoking both a sense of wide-open spaces and cozy home fires. On his self-titled debut, the Florida native flavors sprawling epic songs with a pop sheen, fashioning a record that wavers between the keep-on-truckin' ethos of 1970's country and the more radio/video friendly sounds of the'90's. Think Merle Haggard meets Garth Brooks.
The resulting sound is sometimes overwrought and overly refined as on "Lightning Does the Work" and "Unbreak My Heart" (the latter song filching, none too cannily, a concept already worked to pop perfection by R&B chanteuse Toni Braxton). Elsewhere, however, Brock's vast, warm vocals add a rich layer to more stripped down numbers such as "Evangeline" and "I Wonder Where Love Goes." Those intermittent moments when Brock abandons Nashville chic for bona fide passion and artistry are deeply satisfying and promising.