Since "One Voice" made Billy Gilman the youngest person ever to place a song in the country singles charts, his pre-pubescent age is the unavoidable subtext of his debut album. Certainly, he's not the first pre-teen to make popular music, but the same problem always has to be faced: the usual subject of pop lyrics is romantic love, and what does that mean when the words are being sung by an 11 year old? At very least, there's a certain awkwardness, and the implications can be even more objectionable depending on the song. The producers of One Voice have mostly obviated this difficulty by choosing or writing harmless material. For example, the album begins with a rousing remake of Bobby Goldsboro's "Little Things," which perhaps can be viewed as a song being sung by a boy to his mother in this context. But what is one to make of the "bonus track" that closes the album, Tammy Wynette's "'Til I Can Make It on My Own"? The song's point, which in Wynette's version was that a woman might not be able to make a complete break with her romantic partner all at once, is out the window, but it would be a stretch to apply any other reading to those words, especially when Gilman, a sort of country-style choir boy, is singing it androgynously in Wynette's register. He is on much safer ground with the novelty "The Snake Song" and even the title track, which addresses grade school violence with religious platitudes. From LeAnn Rimes to Britney Spears, youth has been a major trend in popular music of the last few years, and Billy Gilman represents a new extreme, at least as far as country music goes. He can certainly carry a tune, and you can only hope that he won't be a has-been by the time his voice changes.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann