If Sweeter, Gavin DeGraw’s fourth album, proves anything, it’s that producer Ryan Tedder has some warmth buried somewhere within his icy soul. Tedder doesn’t produce all of Sweeter -- Butch Walker, Eric Ivan Rosse, Andrew Frampton, and Ron Aniello are also on board -- but he does co-write two cuts here, as does Frampton, marking the first time DeGraw has collaborated with another writer. It’s not much, just four songs out of ten, but it’s enough to expand and freshen his bearded blue-eyed soul, making it feel not quite so studiously stodgy. DeGraw still has a habit of packing too many words into his phrases and then singing them too strenuously, and his sparser moments can seem skeletal, but these collaborators add colors to a formula that was beginning to get bleached out. DeGraw could stand to be livelier and not as insistent -- he never misses an opportunity to underscore his point and has a tendency to succumb to gratingly silly novelties, as on “Candy” -- but Sweeter benefits from greater textures in his surroundings, stronger hooks in the melodies, and, for once, a sensibility that doesn’t sacrifice the present for the sake of paying respect to the past.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine