Here it is: the debut album by the winner of 2005's Nashville Star competition. His prize was a contract with RCA Nashville. Given the music biz hype surrounding the show, it's no secret that his first single "Drinkin' Me Lonely," was a hit and garnered lots of interest at radio. But there's another reason for that, too: it's a great tune -- and it was self-penned. But that's really just the beginning. Chris Young has one of those classic country voices that is memorable after one hears it the first time, like Keith Whitley, George Strait, Clint Black, and Ronnie Milsap. The record opens with "Beer or Gasoline," a loud country rocker, and slips effortlessly into "You're Gonna Love Me," a straightforward up-tempo country love song. By the time "Drinkin' Me Lonely'" comes up on the player, the album is in full swing. It's a song Merle Haggard would have been proud to write. Other notable cuts here include the rollicking wildness of "Lay It on Me," and the slippery love song "Center of My World." There are plenty of bad boy rockers to accompany the ballads, which makes for an auspicious debut. The only complaint is Buddy Cannon's production. It's so huge and compressed it makes the album sound generic even if the songs aren't -- fiddles sound more like synths, the guitars all sound like they were recorded the late '70s, and the drums all have so much reverb on them, they sound more like programmed beats than an actual drumkit. The production will date this record instead of making it sound timeless like the great country albums that Young seems to adore given his classic writing style. Still, it's a first record, and Young is the real thing. It's no fluke he won the competition, and from the sound of this set, he's in it for the long haul.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek