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Chris Young

The Man I Want to Be – 2009 (RCA)

Reviewed by Michael Sudhalter

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CDs by Chris Young

The now-defunct competition that was Nashville Star produced few significant artists, aside from Miranda Lambert, who finished third in the 2003 edition. Chris Young, the 2006 winner, may have something to say about that with a sophomore album that plays on his strengths - chiefly, a neo-traditional sound coupled with a warm baritone.

The Tennessee native's act runs deeper than your average cowboy-hat wearing, mid-20's country act. He delves into difficult subjects like The Dashboard about a U.S. Marine who's about to deploy overseas and asking his younger brother to take care of his pickup truck. It's told from the brother's perspective, and the song recalls Tracy Lawrence's If I Don't Make It Back and Jeff Carson's The Car in theme, but this song ends happily. It Takes A Man talks about parental responsibility with the line "any fool can make a baby, it takes a man to raise a child." Getting You Home, 1 of 3 songs Young had a hand in writing among the 10 songs, recalls Josh Turner's Your Man with a heavier dose of twang. Another highlight is Young's duet with Willie Nelson, Rose In Paradise where the duet partners' contrasting styles complement each other well.

The double-entendre of Voices, the first single, and the rollicking twang of the Randy Houser co-written, Twenty-One Candles make this album worthwhile, but the title track and a cover of Brooke Benton's Rainy Night In Georgia take the album to another level.

The title track is all about asking forgiveness with the clever lyrics, "I want to be a good man, a do like I should man, the kind of man the mirror likes to see, a strong man, admit that I was wrong man, come change me into the man I want to be." Young's cover of Benton's classic highlights his warm baritone and recalls 1980's-era Randy Travis in it.