Tate Stevens

Tate Stevens

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The winner of the second season of the American edition of The X Factor, Tate Stevens is a good old boy pushing 40, certainly not the hip, young sexy singer Simon Cowell may have imagined launching with the U.S. version of his U.K. hit. But Cowell knows the record business and knows that country music can still sell well in the U.S., plus it plays well on TV...and several of American Idol's most successful alumni sing country, so Stevens' TV triumph isn't quite as surprising as it may initially seem. Truth is, there isn't much surprising about Tate Stevens' eponymous 2013 debut album. Track by track the sound shifts, alternating between big-boned country swagger and breezy bits of country-pop, sometimes dabbling with misty-eyed ballads but often spending time kicking up dirt as he sings about girls, cars, and bars. Coming across like a fusion of Josh Turner's baritone, Jason Aldean's macho strut, and Kenny Chesney's guy-next-door friendliness, Stevens is an amiable enough singer but he is never quite a compelling one, never telling stories, never pulling a listener into a song. He's eager to please, as is his album, wanting to be something for everyone but the diversity doesn't suggest versatility, rather that Stevens has no particular song suit so the producers put him in every setting hoping that one sticks. Several of these songs are ingratiating enough to be a hit if they get the right break but, as a collection of songs, this suggests Stevens remains a country singer who is more at home on television than he is on record.

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