Charlie Worsham


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Mississippi native Charlie Worsham kicked around Nashville, playing as a member of the progressive bluegrass band Kingbilly before scoring a spot in Taylor Swift's backing band in 2011. Worsham's 2013 solo debut, Rubberband, may indeed feature cameos by Marty Stuart and Vince Gill -- two titans of modern American roots music -- but its soft sensibility is much, much closer to that of Swift, who happily blurs the boundaries between pop and country. Which isn't to say Worsham dives into the deep-end of dance-pop crossover -- there isn't a hint of "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" -- but everything on Rubberband is surrounded in a sweet haze, a gentleness that suits the inherent geniality in Worsham's voice. Friendliness is the order of the day, so much so that only "Want Me Too" proceeds with a genuine pulse to its tempo, but Worsham's sweetness as a singer and songwriter is an asset, particularly in an age where crossover country-pop has grown oversized (think of Rascal Flatts' arena adult contemporary). Worsham recalls an earlier time, namely the early '90s -- his hit single "Could It Be" quite clearly evokes the ghost of Diamond Rio's classic "Meet in the Middle" -- and this fondness for assured, sculpted melodies and immaculate production makes him a bit of a throwback in 2013, yet Worsham is cute, youthful, and smart enough to toss aside a reference to Bonnaroo, so he feels contemporary. Nevertheless, he may find that his most ardent fans are the ones who were teenagers back in 1992 and wondering why Nashville can't make music like it used to do.

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