Half Past Forever

Take a Chance on Something Beautiful

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Before the world was caught up in Sanjaya Malakar fever, the dark horse of American Idol's 2007 season was a pudgy dude with a sardonic sense of humor and a mop of black curls named Chris Sligh. A genuinely good singer whose personal aesthetic never quite meshed with that of the show (and who blew a lot of goodwill with the show's core audience when he dared to mouth off to Simon Cowell on live TV), Sligh was booted off in the number ten slot after a poorly-chosen version of the Police's "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic." However, Sligh already had a small indie deal going for his band Half Past Forever, and once he had completed his contractual obligations to 19 Entertainment, their pre-American Idol debut album was reissued at a considerably higher level of visibility. Take a Chance on Something Beautiful isn't a great album, but it's a decent enough collection that showcases Sligh's vocal strengths. While his earnest delivery isn't perhaps all that different from a lot of other singers, Sligh is not at all bombastic or overpowering. He understands the concepts of dynamic range and subtlety, which means that even on potentially icky songs like the emo power-ballad "Hero," he's in no danger of veering off into Scott Stapp land. That said, the low-budget production sounds like the band were mostly interested in putting as much radio-friendly gloss on the tightly-compressed mixes as they could, at the detriment of being more playful or adventurous with their arrangements, and the tunes themselves rarely deviate from the standard alt-rock playbook. Furthermore, Sligh's lyrical sincerity (many of the songs reflect his Christian outlook) quashes the dry humor of his TV personality, sounding unnecessarily po-faced throughout. Bands like Barenaked Ladies have proven that it's possible to be sincere and playful at the same time, and Sligh would be a perfect fit in that kind of wide-ranging, eclectic pop/rock band. Take a Chance on Something Beautiful is already better than most albums by American Idol also-rans, but Chris Sligh is capable of more.

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