Jerry Castle

Don't Even Ask

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Nashville singer/songwriter Jerry Castle's second solo album, Don't Even Ask started out to be a demo session to produce tracks he could use to shop his compositions around town, hoping to get some country star to cut them. Although it coheres as a collective musical statement and Castle proves a winning performer of his own material, the disc still may serve primarily for its intended purpose. Castle is very much a contemporary country writer of a particular kind, one who eschews the more honky tonk aspects of the genre for its platitudinous side. He can write a heartfelt tribute to his daughter ("Rainbows for Ava") or reflect sadly on a marriage gone wrong ("Bends"), though his usual subject is a kind of self-referential support system in which he bucks himself up to face life's challenges. Keeping to the Nashville mold, he does so in generalized, clich├ęd terms, which makes it difficult for his songs to stand out from the pack. Similarly, he sings in an relaxed low tenor with a pronounced Southern twang, only occasionally adopting a somewhat more biting tone in the manner of, say, Steve Earle ("Charades"), singing over conventional country-pop arrangements. It all goes down easy, but the songs may take a more distinctive interpreter to make them into valuable copyrights for their author.

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