Buddy Jewell kicked around Texas roadhouses from his teens to his early thirties, then kicked around Nashville until his early forties, supporting himself as a demo singer, until the "reality series" (read: amateur contest) Nashville Star gave him by popular acclamation what the country music industry had denied him, a recording contract. While the TV voters are to be commended for forcing something that would otherwise never occur in Nashville, the first-time signing of a middle-aged debut artist, on his first album Jewell sounds just like what he is, a demo singer. That is to say, he is both thoroughly competent to sing the formula country songs that have been rounded up for him (three of which even feature his name in the songwriting credits) and thoroughly anonymous. Like a good demo singer, he gets across the points the songs have to make in their lyrics, with their clichéd words and hackneyed situations, but in doing so, he evokes every singing hat of the past 20 years, the kind of male singers who used to be the recipients of the songwriting demos on which he performed. Jewell may not be any less talented than those stars who achieved fame by more conventional means, but he is no more talented, either. Of course, it would take exceptional talent to put across the bland material here, and Jewell himself is one of the main offenders, alone contributing the leadoff single, "Help Pour Out the Rain (Lacey's Song)," one of those insufferable "inspirational" country songs in which the Christian God comes off like a combination of the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. Maybe that's what made two million TV viewers vote Jewell a "Nashville Star," but it simply adds one more headpiece to country's hatrack of mediocrity.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
feat: Miranda Lambert