George Huff


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Miracles arrived a little bit later than the promised spring of 2005 due date touted on the back of George Huff's 2004 debut, My Christmas EP!, but that's fine -- chances are nobody outside his hardcore fans noticed the delay. And by October of 2005, nearly two years after he started his run on American Idol, only hardcore fans were paying attention to Huff anyway, especially since he and his managers made the decision to move away from pop and toward Christian music. While this very well might have been the result of deeply held convictions on the part of Huff, it's also quite true that his retro-soul vocal stylings and cuddly persona didn't make him right for the sexier world of modern R&B, so there were two choices of niche markets for Huff: either make a go of it as a neo-soul singer, where his AmIdol history was a detriment, or contemporary gospel, where it gave him an audience. So, contemporary gospel it was, as he signed with Word Records and released Miracles, whose title surely has religious overtones, but those are undercut slightly by the cover art featuring a smiling Huff wearing a Boston Red Sox cap -- a subtle suggestion that this may not be a collection of inspirational tunes, since it's a sly reference to the miracle of the Sox winning the 2004 World Series. That's not the case at all. Despite the loud, thumping Usher soundalike "Real Love (I Got It)," which begins the album on a jarring note, there are no overt attempts to make a modern R&B crossover attempt. Instead, this is all sweet, friendly tunes about God's grace, produced to sound as if they could ease onto an adult contemporary radio station. The material is by and large generic -- sometimes pleasingly so, sometimes just a little forgettable -- but Huff delivers it with conviction and warmth. It's hard not to wish there was a little bit of grit here -- say, if there was a record that had the gospel stomp of his cover of Elton John's "Take Me to the Pilot" on AmIdol -- but Miracles goes down easy. It's a likeable record, even if it's not a particularly memorable one.

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