Maybe Josh Gracin should’ve put out a record of songs musing on sin before titling his third studio album Redemption, but considering that this offering delivers a generous 17 songs, who cares? The former U.S. Marine and fourth-place finalist from American Idol's second season has come a long way since his 2004 eponymous debut. Free from the confines of his previous label, Gracin wrote or cowrote every song here, save for a breathy cover of John Mayer’s “Edge of Desire.” The harder, country-rocking “Different Kind of Crazy” kicks off Redemption as distorted electric guitars butt heads with front-porch banjo picking, while Gracin rocks out over a meat-and-potatoes rhythm section. The catchier “Cover Girl” similarly struts on twangy Southern rock peppered with Dobro guitars and an old grinding Hammond B3 organ. The bittersweet ballad “Can’t Say Goodbye” proves that Gracin can still yank on those heartstrings just as he did when serenading his child during his American Idol farewell song. Both “Long Way to Go” and its closing remix aim for the charts.

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