The Man I Want to Be
Coming across like an old-school country gentleman, Chris Young delivers a convincing sophomore effort with 2009’s The Man I Want to Be where his songs are top-drawer and he interprets them with warmth and a sense of style. Young is more than just another manly singer with a killer baritone growl — he excels at nuanced, R&B-tinged tunes like Tony Joe White’s “Rainy Night In Georgia” as well as hard-core country fare. At times, his performances on this album recall the mellifluent dignity of early George Strait and Randy Travis, especially on folksy narratives like “The Dashboard” and “The Shoebox.” Young tips his hat to classic country on the moody “Rose In Paradise” (a duet with Willie Nelson), but he’s not afraid of tossing off a blazing rocker like “Twenty-One Candles” as well. When he offers songs with a pronounced moral theme, like “Voices” or “It Takes a Man,” he manages to sound humble rather than preachy. And, as “Gettin’ You Home” shows, he’s convincing with a romantic ballad.