This 2012 collection of pre-fame recordings from American Idol Season 9 winner Lee DeWyze rounds up nine songs the singer/songwriter recorded between 2006 and 2010. During this time, DeWyze completed two full albums, so these tunes are leftovers, songs that didn't quite make the initial cut, and What Once Was does play like a collection, not a cohesive record. DeWyze flips between his influences -- a little Coldplay, a lot of Dave Matthews, a fair amount of Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz -- and without the polish of a major label he comes across as sincere, a quality that was often missing on his post-Idol platter Live It Up. And by possessing that earnest quality, What Once Was winds up capturing what lots of Idol fans liked about the singer, arguably more so than his splashy stab at the big time.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine