Chris Young – “The Man I Want To Be”
Songwriters: Brett James & Tim Nichols.
Chris Young’s self-titled first album suffered from an acute case of Underwooditis: a great voice, but not-so-great material. While the dozens of Nashville Star viewers may have bought the record, the subsequent radio play just wasn’t enough to make him a household name. His second album has been much better received, with “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song)” recently topping the charts and “Voices” breaking into the Top 40 back in May 2008.
The title track and third single from his sophomore album, “The Man I Want to Be,” is written by a pair of proven rainmakers. Brett James (“Jesus, Take the Wheel”) and Tim Nichols (“Live Like You Were Dying”) start things off with a killer opener, “God, I’m down here on my knees ’cause it’s the last place left to fall/Begging for another chance if there’s any chance at all” and although some lyrics are a little too bland to be particularly moving (“I wanna be a givin’ man/I wanna really start livin’, man” is the worst offender), “The Man I Want to Be” is certainly good enough to hold its own when compared to the similarly inspirational hits penned by Nichols and James mentioned above.
In the hands of a lesser singer, this single would be radio filler in between songs about being country and songs about high school; however, Young sells it, truly sounding as though he’s at the end of his rope and praying to anyone who’ll listen. He possesses perhaps the best voice to hit commercial country since Josh Turner first hit the scene, and his vocal turn on “The Man I Want to Be” is slightly reminiscent of Keith Whitley.
“The Man I Want to Be” is definitely capable of success: it’s got the catchy, radio-friendliness of “Gettin’ You Home” while also being (neo)traditional enough to lessen the grief of those sitting shiva after last week’s CMAs. Better get used to hearing from Chris Young: at only 24 years old, he’s got the talent and potential to make some mighty fine music.
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