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Chris Daughtry

With his first self titled album Daughtry, American Idol non-winner Chris Daughtry had the last laugh by creating an endlessly listenable record that wound up selling millions of copies. Take that Taylor Hicks (he won Chris’ year on Idol) you pasty faced and talentless yokel.

So what happened this time Chris? Why does your usual vocal vibrato seem to be accentuated by some serious nasal clogging? Did your prescription for your allergy medicine expire and you were too busy to see the doctor? Why do you sound like you are singing through a stuffy nose? What happened?

Perhaps some answers can be found in Chris Daughtry’s recent acoustic cover of Lady GaGa’s Poker Face. While this track, unfortunately, cannot be found on the track list for Daughtry’s new album Leave This Town, it has become quite the internet sensation on YouTube. Does Mr. Daughtry know what this Lady GaGa song is about? Or does he, too, understand the iniquity of suffering through a certain intimate experience with his partner where unmentionable body parts continually slap against his poker face? I kind of doubt it. But it is funny to think about.

As for Daughtry’s new record it is much more a hit and miss affair than his first effort. On some tracks he tries his very best to imitate his heavy metal heroes while other songs are seeming rip-offs of his own earlier hits. While experimentation is all well and good, Daughtry the band is at its cohesive best when it uses a mid-tempo beat from the rhythm section to accentuate whatever painful feeling Mr. Sensitive (also known as Chris Daughtry) is trying to convey. Regretfully for buyers of Leave This Town, a lot of the sentiments just don’t seem to ring very true. I mean, how many times can some girl break Chris Daughtry’s heart? He’s hot.

Leave This Town opens with a song called You Don’t Belong that boasts guitar riffs and drum beats seemingly stolen from the latest Disturbed album. This kind of musical accompaniment to Chris Daughtry’s voice just doesn’t belong. It is possibly the weakest song on the entire album and shouldn’t be the lead in track.

The rest of the album covers the usual gamut of Daughtry topicsmuch like in country music the lyrics usually refer to a woman who has done him wrong or refers to a world that is breaking him down. His usual angst levels are conveyed in songs like Ghost of Me, With your imagination and emotions running wild/ fueling my frustrations like a fire burning, the clock keeps turning/I know it’s getting underneath your skin/I’ve tried to tell you know/ Don’t look over your shoulder/ Because you are just looking at the ghost of me.

As the album progresses you begin to wonder who exactly pissed this guy off so much? The repetitive nature of the themes begin to grate somewhat, only lessened by the occasional appearance of absolutely irresistible pop-style hooks. These hooks are truly Daughtry’s saving grace. It is what keeps this from being an utterly mediocre album. It keeps it from being a blatant rip-off of American Idol winner David Cook’s record – itself a total rip-off of Daughtry’s first album. Yes, dears, Leave This Town embodies borderline musical cannibalism.

If you are looking to save a couple bucks there are a few tracks you really don’t need to download including On the Inside and Every Time You Turn Around which sounds like 6 other Daughtry songs but with utterly juvenile lyrical rhyming. But the worst track by far is the musically adventurous (if you call aping instrumentation from a Broadway musical adventurous) and lyrically inept Supernatural, It’s more than I can take and I’m losing hold of everything/ When it’s more than physical it’s hard to see beyond the glow. What?

Redemption is not far off as the next track called Tennessee Line is perhaps the most beautifully actualized Daughtry song ever recorded. Bringing to mind every midnight road trip you have ever taken, Tennessee Line is at times heartbreaking yet filled with joyful remembrances. It is lyrically rich and musically soothing in a way that ensures its status as a true classic. It may not hit the pop charts like a hammer but I guarantee that this song will become a favorite by embodying a time and place to the individuals who hear it. Haunting me now reminders of how I used to be/ And on down the road my troubles are sure to follow/ Looking out the window, the hell if I know where I will go/ So I’ll just keep on driving.

Despite the fact that Leave This Town suffers from a rather haphazard quality it is still a worthy follow up to Daughtry’s first record. It doesn’t quite bog-down with the second record curse and truly hits some new, unreached highs for the band. Leave This Town just doesn’t qualify as a great record all the way from beginning to end. So be sure to listen to all the tracks, most especially Tennessee Line, Life After You and Ghost of Me. That way you can just download the tracks you like and won’t be saddled with the few unfortunate new Daughtry songs that never rise above a slightly unbelievable tone of sullen mediocrity.