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Chris Young - The Man I Want To Be

By: Matt Bjorke

Last Updated: September 13, 2009 6:02 PM

Chris Young is something of a rarity these days.  After a self-titled debut album that didn’t sell as many copies or feature as many hits as Chris or his record label thought it would, he was granted the opportunity to record a second album, this one with James Stroud in the producer’s chair.  Also, instead of being an album that is rife with refried southern rock clichés, there is a decidedly ‘neotraditionalist’ or ‘honky tonk’ bent to this album.  The Top 40 single “Voices” may have kept Chris’ name on people’s minds but it is the Top 15 ( and soon to be Top 10 hit) “Getting You Home (The Black Dress Song)” that has gotten out to the public and thank god for that. 

“The Black Dress Song” (watch video here) is sultry and sexy without ever feeling like it’s pandering to anybody.  Also, despite the R&B grooves in the mix, the song is nothing but country.  The album opening track “That Makes Me” may be the obligatory southern rock song (that is a major trend these days) but even if it recalls something out of the Aldean canon, it still is a song that is still more country sounding.  “The Dashbord” is a remarkable song for a few different reasons.  Aside from the fact that the song is laced with beautiful fiddle fills throughout, “Dashboard” features lyrics that reference the military but instead of the soldier being killed-off in the bridge we get a different ending.  Written by Monty Criswell, the song just feels like a hit. 

Former RCA label mate Aaron Lines sang “It Takes A Man” in 2007 (for his Canada-only release) and it’s nice to see this sweet song about a young man who makes the right decision to ‘man up’ after becoming a father at such a young age, after all “Any fool can make a baby” but “it takes a man to raise a child.”  This is a song with stellar dobro and acoustic guitar fills that help bring the melody and message home.  Directly after that mid-tempo ballad is the Tom Hambridge/Jeffrey Steele co-write “The Shoebox.”  While both songwriters are known for their kick-ass rockers, “The Shoebox” is a whole different ballgame altogether.  It really feels the centerpiece of this record, the kind of award-winning multi-week number one hit.  Perhaps the best thing is that there isn’t a predictable string section ever present on the song.  Instead fiddle and mandolin master Aubrey Haynie provides the color for the song.  If this song isn’t a huge hit, country radio is in a serious state of hurt.  

Willie Nelson has performed so many duets with a variety of artists in his career that it seems almost laughable to hear that he’s on another album yet when I listen to “Rose In Paradise” it really feels more like a classic Waylon/Willie song rather than just another case of Willie not being able to say no.  “Twenty One Candles,” which is co-written by Randy Houser, Ed Hill and Mark D. Sanders,  is nothing, if not another fun reminder of what we should do with our lives, that is to ‘live fast, live happy, and ejoy life.’   

We often find the title tracks to albums placed in the front half of an album but for this record, Chris “The Man I Want To Be” is placed next-to-last on the record and the ballad, like almost every song on this record, feels like it could be played over and over by radio and video stations. The record ends with a beautifully and tastefully done remake of Tony Joe White’s sultry and sexy “Rainy Night In Georgia.”  The song also serves as a stellar showcase for Chris’ vocal range as he digs deep before raising the rafters with a stellar and just downright goose-bump inducing falsetto. 

There’s nothing on The Man I Want To Be that cannot be described as radio-ready. And while that phrase may be a dirty word to some, there isn’t a song on this record that wouldn’t make the airwaves better for having them.  Chris Young won Nashville Star in 2006 and while his first record somehow fell through the cracks, I have a feeling that there’s no way in hell that this record isn’t a smash hit.  It certainly is one of the best albums to be released in the past few years.

You can support Chris Young by purchasing this album digitally at iTunes icon| Amazon.

Check out Chris Young lyrics and guitar chords by clicking here

Here's a video from the Release party for Chris Young's "The Man I Want To Be" in Murfreesboro Tennessee.

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