Jimmy Wayne, Do You Believe Me Now

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August 24, 2008

Jimmy Wayne
Do You Believe Me Now

Jimmy Wayne is one of the comeback kids of 2008 after a long, hard road to country music success. Once he arrived in Nashville, he had minor songwriting success before landing a record deal two years later. But after the release of his self-titled debut disc and four subsequent Top 40 hits, record label affairs caused Wayne to move from Dreamworks to Valory Music, subsidiary of Big Machine.

Do You Believe Me Now is the first release from Jimmy Wayne in almost five years. In that time, the landscape of country radio has changed, but the lead single from the project (the title track) has just achieved Top Five status on the Billboard charts. It’s a realistic look at losing the battle of a lover’s heart, and Wayne gives it a convincing turn.

But the first track also highlights the detriments that make this album just average. Nothing about the song is traditional, much like the album. This is all fine and good, but the production detracts from a decent batch of songs. The performances are convincing, and the lyrics are interesting enough at times, but the production bleeds through most of the album. It’s the single biggest problem on Do You Believe Me Now. In an effort to put forth a polished, mainstream country album, Wayne (along with producers Mark Bright, Joe West and Dave Pahanish) has crafted music that, in most cases, fails to complement the songs. In turn, the whole album loses any sort of identity or distinction, even when the songs are worthy.

Some of the songs speak of love lost, including “I Will,” the pledge of undying devotion even after the last goodbye is said, but a great many settle into inspirational territory. “Brighter Days,” a plea to a drifting lover to find faith and hope even when life is hard, seems like a Keith Urban reject. Same goes for the preceding track, “I’ll Be That.” And “I Didn‘t Come Here to Lose,” loosely based on his experiences while striving for a country career, is meant to empowering, but loses its sting among the buoyant musical atmosphere.

It’s no surprise that the song quality picks up with “No Good for Me,” a duet with Patty Loveless. One of the most non-traditional settings ever for a Loveless vocal, the mid-tempo number explores the back-and-forth of many a relationship: “We make up, and we make love/It’s a habit/I’m the addict/And you’re my drug.” The pair blend well together on a genuinely honest performance of a seemingly simple lyric, but Loveless is mostly responsible for elevating the track. It’s followed by “True Believer”, a positive number penned by Liz Rose and Lori McKenna that is a solemn vow to keep composure through love’s tests and trials. It’s understated and highly effective, both lyrically and musically.

Two true-to-life tracks are the highlights of the albums due to their interesting stories, even though they both could stand a more rootsy musical treatment. “Kerosene Kid” is the portrait of a child’s hardscrabble life, drawn from Wayne’s difficult upbringing. The last song, “Where You’re Going” is an autobiographical tune about Wayne’s time as a delinquent dropout. Both are deep reflections on a troubled background, and Wayne would do well to follow this muse more often. Most of the rest of Do You Believe Me Now? simply caters to country radio, and the production value overshadows even the most potent messages on an album that will please most Jimmy Wayne fans, but will likely fail to attract a new audience. Wayne is an above-average singer with an above-average set of songs, but the equation just never quite adds up.

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  1. Thanks, Blake. I’ve just heard a snippet of the Loveless duet and that is my primary interest in the album. I think I read Jimmy Wayne had the track completed and then redid it when he was able to get Patty to participate. Sounds like that was a good idea.

    I saw on his MySpace page a poll to help pick the next single.

  2. Dan M.No Gravatar says:

    Well, dang. I already went out on a limb and pre-ordered this one before any reviews were published. I enjoyed some of the stuff on his debut – he just seems very earnest, and that’s always a nice quality in country-pop – but I remember worrying that he might turn into a Keith Urban knock-off, so it’s an especially big bummer to hear that at least one of the songs comes across that way. Oh well; I’ll see how I like it once it comes in.

  3. Matt BNo Gravatar says:

    Dan,

    I didn’t get that Jimmy’s a “KU knock-off.” I actually really like the record. It’s not landmark by any stretch but I don’t think it’s 2.5 stars either more 3.5. So, hopefully you’ll like it. It’s an interesting album.

  4. Aeroyacine says:

    Do You Believe Me Now is one of my favorite single of the year!

  5. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve never really gotten into Jimmy Wayne for some reason. I guess his songs really never have interested me. I am interested in the Loveless duet though.

  6. Matt BNo Gravatar says:

    You know, after hating the production of this originally, I have grown to like that the production (on 9 of the tracks) isn’t typical music row production. It’s more ‘edgy’ I guess (if I had to put a word to it).

  7. John MagliteNo Gravatar says:

    Jimmy Wayne puts me to sleep.

  8. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    John, I swear, it’s uncanny how much we agree on music!:)

  9. R. M. says:

    Country music survives and thrives through its ability to evolve while keeping the same heart. The single is a prime example of something that can breathe life into the same old production that we’ve all heard for the past 5 or so years. It’s heart and tradition lives within the emotional and painful lyrics, where the production offers a fresh take on how to tell such an emotional story. Jimmy has mentioned that he wanted the album to feel more inspirational than depressing (maybe like a few of his previous singles). If the production on the album is anything like the single than I will be more than satisfied.

  10. Matt BNo Gravatar says:

    R.M.,

    The production is a lot like the first single. At least 9 of the tracks. 3 are produced by Mark “I drive a Bentley” Bright.

  11. Greg says:

    I also love that the production is not like the typical Music Row sound.. well, at least the 9 songs done at Gasoline studio. They gave those tracks a whole new sound that is a breath of fresh air. The 3 other tracks (from Starstruck) are still great, but have the same “Nashville sound” we all have heard before.

    Get the album. You won’t be disappointed.

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