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Blaine Larsen

Rockin' You Tonight – 2006 (BNA)

Reviewed by Eli Messinger

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CDs by Blaine Larsen

Blaine Larsen's sophomore release disproves the idea that you have the initial years of your life to record a debut and scramble to put together the followup. Not only has his preternaturally mature voice become even more sophisticated, but he convincingly transcends the high-school material of his debut and slips comfortably into songs about dating, relationships and marriage.

On raw ability alone - tone, control, phrasing - Larsen vaults past the current crop of young Nashville stars to grab your ears with the emotional depth of country music's most iconic voices. He sounds old school even amid the overly polished performances of Nashville's studio pros, a credit to producers who let him sing unabashedly country.

Highlights include the sweetly funny lead single "I Don't Know What She Said," the post-high school John Mellancamp-styled romantic loss of "Rockin' You Tonight," and the Gretchen Wilson duet "Lips of a Bottle." Mac Davis' "Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me" uses Larsen's low register to terrific effect, and the socially conscious "Someone is Me," also recently recorded by Kenny Rogers, is a great fit for a 20-year-old. Throughout, Larsen's confidence and natural way with song tempos amplify his natural gifts.