The latest American Idol castaway to wash up on the shores of country radio is 2006 eighth-placer Bucky Covington, who sees his debut album hit stores a little over a year since he was sent home. That’s a lot more time between leaving the show and hitting record stores than we usually see for an Idol debut; Carrie Underwood and Kellie Pickler both released albums before the end of the year, with only months to both finish the summer tour and record the project.
Listening to Covington’s debut, it’s easy to make the case for taking more time, as this is a very consistent album, despite a few stumbles here and there. He kicks off the album with a hard country-rocker “American Friday Night”, and he sounds fantastic. His voice has rough edges without sounding forced, and he is fully believable celebrating small-town living it up. But he sounds like a completely different singer on the second track “A Different World,” the lead single that irritates the hell out of me. The difference is jarring, with Covington singing in a high-pitched, overdone twang. If I heard these two songs on the radio, I would think it was two different artists.
Third song, third singing style. “I’ll Walk” has none of the rough delivery of the first track, and a mere shadow of the twang of the second. He sings it in a lower register, and again sounds like a different singer. This is one of those predictable three verses/three different meanings of the title songs (think “Where’ve You Been” or “I’ll Wait For You”), but he delivers it competently.
As the album continues, some highlights begin to surface that match the quality of the opening track, starting with “Back When We Were Gods.” One of my chief criticisms of “A Different World” is that Covington was way too young to sing it, but that’s true about this song as well, but I loved it. I think the difference is the strong conviction he sings it with, besides it being a much better song. “Gods”, and “Ain’t No Thing” which follows it, both succeed because Covington is in his southern rock vein, which is clearly the sound that best works for him. Give him watered-down radio pap like “I’m Good” and “Carolina Blue”, and he sounds barely interested. But he comes alive again whenever he can rip into a rockers like “Empty Handed” and “It’s Good To Be Us.”
There’s even a cool, muddy water blues song “Hometown”, which channels Delbert McClinton at his country soul best. Even “The Bible and the Belt”, which resurrects all those cliches about southern bad boys being kept in line by mama’s gospel and daddy’s belt, goes down believably because of his fiery performance.
I have to admit I expected to hate this album, but lead single “A Different World” is easily the nadir of a surprisingly strong debut album. It gains strength as it continues, and the missteps he makes are typical of a debut artist: trying too hard to please radio, and relying too much on songs about missing home and the simple country life. And let’s be honest – the same criticisms hold up for Carrie Underwood’s debut CD, and she’s doing quite well. This album is on par with her smash debut – and maybe, just maybe, it’s a little better.
I was going to review this for The 9513 but ended up tossing the review because I thought it was too mean spirited. Like you, I thought I would dislike the album and ended up hating it even more than I thought I would. I’m going to give it another listen after reading this review, but I thought it was just awful.
How can you compare this to Carrie’s album?
Carrie = one of the cleanest, most well put together neo-country albums ever.
Bucky = a bar singer who sounds like Ricky Lynn Gregg.
I don’t agree with either statement, honestly. Carrie’s album has a sampler quality to it. It’s not very cohesive. But the best material on it is exceptional, and her flawless vocals keep even the throwaway songs afloat.
Bucky’s not on par with Underwood as a vocalist, and doesn’t have anything mind-blowingly good on his disc like “Before He Cheats” and “Jesus, Take the Wheel”, but the album has a more consistent sound (once you get past tracks 2 and 3) and I think he establishes himself nicely for a debut record.
Trust me, if you’re judging on “A Different World”, I don’t blame you for your skepticism. I think I may have given that single an F. He sounds terrible on it and it’s a bad song to start with. But the rest of the album was a pleasant surprise.
Kevin, I gave it another listen and the biggest problem that I had with the album was that I thought that neither Bucky nor Lyric Street really have any idea who he is as an artist. To me, the album consisted of wanna-be rocker tunes juxtaposed with “country” songs that didn’t consist of anything more than a few gratuitous references to hometowns and dating the preacher’s daughter. The nostalgic tunes on the album seemed very contrived and sounded like Bucky thought he was about 30 years older than he actually is.
Part of it may be that I’ve never been a Southern Rock fan, but I’ve always thought that I could differentiate between good southern rock and bad southern rock and in my opinion this is the worst album I’ve heard in some time.
I actually like In a Different World, at least the versus. The chorus is kind of lame and bland, but I like Bucky’s voice way more than I thought I would.
I normally don’t listen to “Country” music but had caught Bucky on American Idol in the past. The thing that everyone says about the guy being genuine and a everybody’s “nice guy” is absolutely true and is what got me to like him on AI and what got me to give his CD a spin. I like the different tastes you get throughout the album and while his sound isn’t slick and he’ll never be poppy like Carrie Underwood or Kellie Pickler he really sounds great on this debut. Maybe its the aforementioned country/rocker mix that brings me in but I’m mighty surprised I’ve found myself listening to a labeled “Country” artist and this album is darn good regardless. I give it a 4 out of 5!
am I the only one who thinks “I’m Good” is biting its main lick from David Bowie’s “Sound and Vision”? that’s gotta be the strangest (unconscious?) cross-genre lift since that Miranda Lambert song that sounded like Radiohead’s “Subterranean Homesick Alien.”
I am impressed that the CD actually got a 4. I love the song “A Different WOrld” and I really can’t see whats so bad about it. I do admit he’s not AS talented as Carrie, but I think Bucky has it made as far as a style goes. I don’t see why so many people love to bash Idol and Nashville STar singers. It’s either horrible coincidence that they just happen to hate his voice and he was from idol or people have a stupid nitch on their shoulder because they made it “the easy way”. I don’t care either way. I think Bucky belongs in country music and I can’t wait to hear his whole album.
If you’ve been keeping up with Billboard, the people have spoken and they’ve opened their arms to Bucky without question so he’s deffinatly a lot more taelnted than a lot of people put him off to be.
I agree with Joe Sixpack’s opening comment about this album “Loud, bombastic Southern-rock flavored commercial country. American Idol finalist Bucky Covington is a singularly artless singer, but that hardly matters, since the merciless barrage of electric guitars is the real point of this record: it’s all about the formula, and about not giving listeners a chance to breathe the whole time the record is playing.”
I could not have said it better myself – 2 stars and I’m probably being overly generaous
OMG WHO CARES ABOUT CARRIE!! SHUT UP ALREADY!
I didn’t care too much for Bucky on AI but I really like “A Different World”. However, I am glad to know that I am not the only one who thought Bucky was too young to sing the song. Either that or life was very different where he grew up. I’m guessing he didn’t write the song though.
Anyway, I think he is 28 ‘ish? I’m 41 and can’t really claim everything he says in his song. Most of it, but not all of it. I’m surprised he did’t sing, “I had to walk 5 miles to and from school, up hill, both ways, in 5 ft of snow”.
Please don’t take this as a bash though. It’s not intended to be. I really like the song.