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Charlie Worsham

Rubberband – 2013 (Warner)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Charlie Worsham

Newcomer Charlie Worsham doesn't sound so new once the music starts. In fact, Keith Urban serves as a ready made launching pad for the Mississippi native. Worsham sounds remarkably like the Aussie vocally on the lead-off and very catchy Could It Be, the first single. One could easily imagine Urban would be comfortable singing this smooth, a tad soulful, upbeat sounding song.

And the Urban connection seems most apt as Worsham continues living in the shadow of the superstar for awhile among these 11 tracks, all of which Worsham had a hand in writing. Want Me Too includes not only banjo licks, but fast-paced steely lead guitar lines.

Like his doppleganger, Worsham occupies a space that incorporates pleasant sounding music that falls on the country/bluegrass side thanks to frequent use of banjo (an instrument that Worsham plays and incorporates frequently on the CD), which gives a bluegrass feel. Rock sounds are never far away either (the title track in particular with its big sound).

But, fortunately, Worsham, who co-produced, turns on a dime and veers away from the Urban link with a series of quieter songs. The veracity of his vocal delivery comes through loud and clear with How I Learned to Pray with mandolin spicing the breaks. The extended Tools of the Trade finds Worsham stepping it up vocally and particularly musically in a song about the life of a musician. Vince Gill and Marty Stuart both help out on backing vocals. Worsham's voice tends to be on the softer side - pleasant, not dominating, (the mid-tempo Young to See, one of the best cuts) - although he picks it up on Someone Like Me.

Worsham may wear a few of his key influences on his sleeve - and they are worthy ones - but he was smart in following, at least to some extent, his own muse. With "Rubberband," Worsham shows an elasticity in his musical sphere. It may not be particularly new, but it is very well done.