After trying to incorporate jazz influences into his pop sound, Everett Young takes a decidedly adult alternative turn with 2003's The Ground. His measured, bright tenor, not dissimilar from Matthew Sweet's, is well suited to the form, but his pop instincts are overmatched by his tendencies toward the overblown. Such songs as "Paid for the Trade" and "Enemies" have strong moments and are well orchestrated, but are noticeably overwritten both in lyric and structure. This doesn't make The Ground a bad album by any means, just an excessively uptight one. Only on the breezy "Guess What Happened" does Young let his guard down; elsewhere he takes himself and his words relentlessly seriously. "You Had It Made" and the lost-generation ode "Paid for the Trade" best represent the kind of grandiose, sweeping epics he essays to make, identifying this as a true headphone album, one not to be listened to casually. Young draws a surprising amount of new wave influence, particularly on the pop culture indictment "Every Time I Look at You" and the robotic "Charlatan," whose riff hints strongly of Gary Numan's "Cars." Not as hook-friendly as John Mayer, not as lyrically playful as Jason Mraz, and not as musically elegant as David Gray, with The Ground Everett Young falls a bit short of reaching the top tier of early-2000s male pop singer/songwriters.
AllMusic Review by Joseph McCombs