Regie Hamm's life story is a tale of falls and redemption that is scarcely believable, and combined with his award-winning songwriting, it makes for fantastic music. In less than a decade, the young artist went from the top of the songwriting community and a fairy-tale personal life to being driven to the very brink of financial and psychological ruin. Having penned over 20 number one hits and feeling at the top of his game, Regie and his wife took a step toward becoming a family by adopting a baby girl from China. The girl, however, required substantial medical attention due to a rare, mysterious disability that soon drained the couple's fortune and dashed any hopes of a regular life. Just at the point when Regie was ready to give up everything, he felt inspired to write just one more song. That "one more song" -- "Time of My Life" -- ended up winning the songwriting contest on the seventh season of American Idol and became winning contestant David Cook's first single. It stayed on the pop charts for months and became known worldwide. The passion, twists, and turns of these experiences fuel some of Hamm's best-written lyrics on Set It on Fire. Anyone with a soul will resonate with the heart that Regie wears on his sleeve and will connect with the intensely emotional portrayal of his personal journey. He delivers his piano-based good ol' American rock with his trademark raspy tenor and down-on-his-luck storytelling, which solidifies his place among the Mellencamps and Springsteens of his time. His spirit and redemptive faith echo across the album from the betrayal of "Welcome to Hollywood" to the Train-like quest of "Starlight" and the Jon McLaughlin-like hooks of "Full Circle." Between the unlikely triumph that inspired it and the heartwarming songwriting throughout it, Set It on Fire is a catchy yet meaningful collection that ranks among the year's best pop offerings.
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AllMusic Review by Jared Johnson