As a group name for singer/songwriter John Vesely (who plays and sings just about everything here), Secondhand Serenade is oddly appropriate, since Awake sounds on just about every level like a studious approximation of Dashboard Confessional. Awake isn't necessarily a bad album, but the lack of original inspiration on songs like "Vulnerable" and "Maybe" is pretty startling. (Obviously, even the song titles are second-hand.) Even the first-time listener should be able to pinpoint exactly at which second Vesely's double-tracked high harmony voice is going to come in, for example, or when the tune will modulate upward for an extra soupçon of yearning and strain. That said, while Vesely isn't the least bit unique, he does his chosen style well enough, and there's no reason why fans of the sensitive-guy-with-acoustic end of emo wouldn't at least be curious about Awake.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason