Rodney Atkins took a while to ripen into a country hit-maker and Honesty, his 2003 debut album, reflects the time he spent in Nashville honing his craft. The result is a well-rounded and largely successful effort that makes good use of Atkins’ gruff yet vulnerable vocal persona. This native Tennessean comes across as a sly and confident backroads Romeo on tracks like “Sing Along,” “Yeah She Does,” and “Forgiveness and Permission.” He tones down the swagger for more tenderhearted tunes like “Honesty” and “Someone to Share It With.” “The Love We Make” especially makes the case for Atkins as an empathetic (but not too sensitive) partner in love. Swampy acoustic-driven tunes (“Uncomplicated”) and excursions into Southern boogie (‘Monkey In the Middle”) add some tang to the country-pop sounds that dominate the album. Atkins walks the blurry line between girl-chasing roughneck and thoughtful Average Joe fairly well; obviously, the years of woodshedding have given him a firm grip on his talent. He displays enough scruffy charisma on Honesty to make him an artist to watch.