One wants desperately to like Jimmy Wayne - though he's just 30, he's already had enough trouble to last several lifetimes. But though "Stay Gone," the first single from his self-titled debut, has much to recommend it, it's one of the few bright spots in a generally undistinguished album.
The basic problem isn't hard to see. Though he's a good songwriter with solid songwriting skills - 8 of the 12 cuts have his name among the credits - the production here surrounds him with generic country-pop sounds that do a good job of making Wayne sound pretty much like just another disposable wannabee. Whether it's "Paper Angels," a moving story about poor kids co-written by Wayne and Don Sampson or the formulaic giddy-kids-in-love "Trespassin'," written by the team who brought us Lonestar's "Amazed," the arrangements are mostly uninspired and formulaic, flattening out the differences between good material and bad.
Toward the end of the album, more sparsely delivered songs like "Blue And Brown" or the ornate but sensitively rendered "I Love You This Much" take a stab at redeeming the overblown material of the first half, but by then, all but the most perservering listeners will have given up. Here's hoping that Wayne gets the chance to make another, better album - and that next time around, his producers will let Jimmy be Jimmy.