Nashville-based Chris DiCroce belongs to that city's cadre of singer/songwriters who operate outside of Music Row. Instead of penning cookie-cutter items for the likes of Garth Brooks or Wynonna, DiCroce writes far more personal, but also quite tuneful, songs. On his debut disc, DiCroce comes off something like Tom Petty, if he had grown up with John Hiatt. Brand New Fool offers up a folksy roots rock sound that is buoyed with country soul. Both loose fitting and well crafted, DiCroce's songs hit their hooks in an easygoing manner. Songs such as "Cold Hard Truth" and "Only Want to Talk to You" are like conversations with old friends -- warm and inviting, yet offering something interesting to say. On "Shakespeare's Picasso" DiCroce nicely mixes some high culture references (the "title characters" Shakespeare and Picasso) into a low-end bar tale, and then tops it off with a rousing chorus of saloon philosophy. What helps to differentiate DiCroce from the singer/songwriter pack is his well-appointed arrangements. Soulful horns punch up tunes like the memorable "A Little Rain," while Heroes has room for both a Dylanesque harmonica and a jazzy piano solo. Elsewhere on his self-produced disc, he makes judicious use of various string instruments (from banjo to bouzouki), keyboards, and accordion. There are a lot of singer/songwriters around these days, but Chris DiCroce demonstrates on his debut that he is one to lend an ear to.
AllMusic Review by Michael Berick