As a youth in the Mississippi Delta, Steve Azar was indoctrinated into the blues and jazz by grizzled musicians hanging outside his father's liquor store. Later, he left his small town for the country stardom of Nashville, and saw his label fold immediately after Heartbreak Town came out, giving him an authenticity that money can't buy. To top it all off, he even bucked industry trends by writing, alone or in collaborations, everything on his recent Mercury debut, Waitin' on Joe. Perhaps it's because Azar is such a sympathetic character that the disc is such a disappointment, a paint-by-numbers pandering to the prevalent country radio contingency. Everywhere you turn, you're hit with impeccably produced, sanitized soft rock twanging of redneck pabulum. The saving grace is his own lyrics, more heartfelt than his contemporaries by far, but when it comes to the music, either he can do better, or he ain't been paying attention.
Waitin' on Joe Review
by Brian O'Neill