Paul Brandt left Reprise after his 1999 album That's the Truth, and he spent the next five years in the wilderness. He signed with BMG Canada and released two albums -- 2000's What I Want to Be Remembered For and 2001's live Small Towns and Big Dreams -- before he managed to get another contract in the States. He finally resurfaced on Orange, a subsidiary of Universal, in the fall of 2004, and with the new label came an opportunity to redefine himself and reinvigorate his career, and he seized it, writing or co-writing every song on the album apart from the opening cover of "Convoy," which all too faithfully mimics C.W. McCall's original. While it's entertaining, it starts the album on an awkward foot, but things straighten out quickly with "Leavin'," an arena rock-influenced ballad whose echoed guitars echo U2 quite heavily. This is a brooding, intense number that finds Brandt stretching himself and succeeding, and while more of the album could have benefited from going as dark as this, he takes other risks on the record, such as the swaggering, vaudevillian "The King" and assured, anthemic title track. These songs are sly fusions of contemporary country and '80s modern rock, and show that Brandt is developing a distinctive voice. Unfortunately, the rest of the album isn't quite as adventurous, as it's devoted nearly entirely to ballads. Many of these ballads happen to be fairly good, but they tend to sound a little samey, and would have sounded better if there weren't quite as many on the record. Even if there are a few too many ballads, This Time Around is still a successful return to the spotlight for Brandt, and one that points him in the right direction. Hopefully, he'll follow this path even further next time around.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine