Jason Michael Carroll

Growing Up Is Getting Old

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The pensive, sepia-toned snapshot on the cover of Jason Michael Carroll's second album, Growing Up Is Getting Old, shows that the country singer is determined to leave the pretty-boy down-home hunk of his first album behind -- at least in terms of image, if not quite in terms of music. It may be a little softer, a little broader, a little bit self-consciously older, but Growing Up Is Getting Old shows the same fondness for arena country clichés as Carroll's 2007 debut, Waitin' in the Country, relying heavily on sports-bar rockers and radio-ready ballads, all peppered with signifiers of Middle American life. The whole thing opens with a Saturday night bar brawl, trucks appear in every other song, whiskey flows like water, and there are dewy-eyed salutes to "Where I'm From," trips through the past fueled by flipping through a yearbook, and product placement and name drops by the dozen -- all capped off by simple truths like "I think honesty is right/I think lying is wrong." That quote comes from "That's All I Know," one of three songs that Carroll co-wrote here, and if its strained everyman platitude suggests that he might need assistance writing, many of his made-to-order songs here pander just as heavily, sometimes dipping into the maudlin, as when the divorced dad calls home on "Tears" or when "Where I'm From" ends with a chorus of "Amazing Grace." Like before, Carroll can almost turn these coldly calculated clichés into something resembling genuine emotion -- his voice is warm and friendly, giving his readings a conversational lilt -- but even his easy touch can't disguise how Growing Up Is Getting Old is crassly constructed to hit every mark in modern country in 2009.

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