One of the more underrated contestants in American Idol history, Haley Reinhart belted her face off during the show’s 2011 season, earning a third-place finish when she arguably deserved something better. Several months after the May 2011 finale, Wal-Mart began releasing a string of Idol-related EPs, each one of which focused on a specific finalist from Season 10. Reinhart’s record is easily the best, not only because her best songs are all featured, but because she already sounds like a pro. Whereas Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery betrayed their youth on their own EPs, both of them imitating the styles of other country singers instead of blazing their own trails, Reinhart slays everything she touches, lacing her songs with neo-soul grit but rarely, if ever, oversinging. She’s a multi-dimensional singer, with a jazz background that adds a sexy, boozy sway to the rock numbers (“You Oughta Know,” “What Is and What Should Never Be”) and soul songs (“Bennie and the Jets,” “Rolling in the Deep”). That’s a hard thing to do on American Idol, where contestants fight over pre-packaged roles in order to win the country vote, the rock vote, the throwback singer vote, and so on. Reinhart doesn’t subscribe to any single genre here, and that’s what makes this EP a surprisingly solid appetizer for her full-length debut.
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AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey