Marc Broussard

Marc Broussard

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Sometimes a perceived step forward is a leap backwards in judgment. In singer and songwriter Marc Broussard's case, his self-titled fourth album -- and his second for Atlantic -- this is exactly what transpired. On 2008's Keep Coming Back, Broussard decided to strip his sound back to something that resembled the one he projected on the road. He employed longtime collaborators Calvin Turner and Justin Tocket to produce a back-to-basics set of all-original material. There the sound was rough and ready out of the box and showcased the unique character of his Bayou rhythm & blues vocals. It struck a bigger chord with critics and audiences than his slicker previous offerings did. Broussard and Atlantic decided to up the ante commercially here. They enlisted producer Jamie Kenney (who co-wrote and arranged the album's songs, played keyboards, and basically ran things; he is primarily known as a contemporary Christian music producer). He understood (as did Broussard) the label's plan to launch its artist as a pop crossover talent. The album's first single, the pre-release "Only Everything," with its 21st century clash of programmed synthesizers and loops, compressed drums, and ghostly trace of old-school soul, did very well at Hot AC stations across the country. It's also indicative of the way the entire album sounds. While virtually nothing could remove the Bayou from Broussard's voice, Kenney and Atlantic did their level best. "Lucky" contains some rote traces of old-school rhythm & blues in the guitars, and the inclusion of an all but buried horn section, but it's so covered over in production layers that the singer's voice and the cloying melody in the refrain just bleed it of anything resembling real emotion. "Yes Man," with its fingerpops and clich├ęd snare and bass drum, sounds like it could have come from a Jonas Brothers record (but it isn't as catchy). Even the ballads, like "Let It All Out" and "Our Big Mistake," sound like Broussard its trying to find something in his words to transcend the sterile studio gimmickry. He fails. "Emily" seemingly lifts an ELO riff note for note before it descends into a trite, unimaginative pop chorus. Atlantic, Broussard, and Kenney may get lucky in the marketplace: the singer may be able to ride the fickle waves of popularity for a short time (though even that's debatable). These songs and performances are so generic, they're all but impossible to distinguish from one another, let alone be remembered for anything.

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