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Music Review: Bo Bice – See the Light

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The Real Thing is the real equation apparent in this sophomore album released by Bo Bice following his time in the American Idol spotlight.

This is the real thing – in the world of Bice. He rolls and rocks and revels in the rock-a-billy stylings that this man is obviously most comfortable expressing himself in. This is the real thing when it comes to Bo Bice's heart, his soul. Turning on the album, the listener is treated to a hearty mix of southern, soulful rock and roll with a twang of country-at-heart thrown into the mix.

"Witness", the first track, strides out with a retro sound. It hearkens back to a definite 1970's vibe. This tune embodies a raunchy southern rock pulse. There's a touch of Frampton Comes Alive with voice box utilization, yet a Jimi Hendrix carryover tone in his vocal treatment and guitar work. It hits hard from opening to end.

The second track on the album, "Take the Country Outta Me", is a strident twist into the roots from which this man derives his musical heart from: lyrics such as, "I grew up on Merle Haggard", references to ZZ Top, and  "Free Bird" (Lynyrd Skynyrd). Bice carries on to extol Marshall Tucker, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Jimmy Rodgers, and JJ Cale. It's basically a long shout out to paint the picture of what and where his heart comes from musically. This tune may come out as bar brawling, beer drinking music, but the man's paying dues to who fulfilled his mind and enlivened his musical soul.

"I'm Gone" is a tune with Bo giving his drawling best raw music-man vocals. The mixing put me in mind of his old SugarMoney sound. "Only Words" incorporates a glorious steel guitar introduction. I found this quite an introspective tune. As a side note, I love the background vocals. The gal singing back-up has a definitive EmmyLou Harris sound – she compliments him very nicely. This track also includes an endearing blubbering saxophone fortifying the bluesy country vibe. The next track, "Only Words" hit me as a fine tune, very bar band southern rock and smoky. To sum it up in four words: "Pass the Jack Daniels".

"See the Light" has this whole, to use a semi-current pop culture phraseology,  "Brother Where Art Thou" groove. It opens with a mellow mouthharp, rolling rhythm and blues, and a great flow. Religious overtones as Bo exhorts all to come on down pay their dues, recognize and repent, it's all about letting it 'shine'.

The next song is mine. "Sinner in a Sin". Bo gives it a more country twang than I've previously heard on other recordings and it fits the lyrics and the theme. Mellow harmonica flavors the song; the lyrics, "Loser that never wins, poet without a pen always been and doing it again" reverberates within my very soul. It's a song about lost love, about dreams not realized quite yet, and regret about frivolous pursuits. The song also carries the theme running under the current of this entire piece of work: retribution, repentance, and forgiveness. This song touches me in a personal way, every time I have heard him sing it. I adore this treatment of it.

"This Train" is a cool rolling tune, more uptempo, yet still retains religious undertones. Bo Bice is singing his life and times as most artist will do; this tune relays the carrying on he's done through bad and good times. Bice has experienced life threatening situations with illnesses he's fought and this song feels like an anthem to keep on keeping on no matter what is happening. This track was co-written with a gifted writer and keyboardist, Thomas Lee.

The next tune, "Ain't Gonna Die" finds Bo Bice all rock 'n' roll righteous. He hits old school with a killer Molly Hatchet groove. "Whisky, Women and Time" is one of The Biceman's older tunes, very Allman Brothers sounding, you feel and hear that influence.

This is Bo Bice showing everyone what is the real thing in his world. Should he have been able to do this album straight out of the Idol experience, perhaps he'd been giving Underwood more of a run on the charts. (As if that even matters.)

A personal note to the artist: Bubba, you're no longer that poet without a pen. The sun's shining down on you. Much love and much success.

You can purchase Bo Bice's new album from ITunes or at Wal-Mart. Check it out on AOL.com.

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  • Christy

    Wow! You have really hit the nail on the head with this AWESOME review! See the Light IS THE REAL Bo Bic and it deserves the respect of ALL!
    As an over-active fan club member…I say THANK YOU!
    Much Luv,

  • Robin from Chattanooga

    Your review says it all. I respect the man and love his new CD.

  • Kim from Tennessee

    Thanks for the great review! this is what Bo Bice fans have been waiting for!

  • Kathleen from California

    I watched Bo’s live webcast last night since I can’t get into town to buy his CD (rural living!!). It was awesome. “Witness” is already on my MySpace page!! Bo is a very gifted singer/songwriter, and he deserves many accolades for this CD. This is what “The Real Thing” SHOULD have been (no thanks to Clive Davis). I hope this rockets to the top of the charts and gives Bo the credit and respect he deserves. Great article – great CD – great singer!

  • Pat

    Great review! I bought SEE THE LIGHT yesterday and I’m thrilled by the true blue sound of Bo belting out his southern rock sound so passionately. I could feel the pride and joy in his voice reverberate with each and every song. This is the Bo Bice album I’ve been waiting for!

  • Debbie From Maryland

    I bought Bo’s new CD today. I absolutely love it. This is the Bo I fell in love with on American Idol. He just plain rocks !!!!!!!

  • Cathy from Jacksonville FL

    This is exactly what the Bo fans have been waiting for. This CD will bring him more fans that didn’t even think they liked him. It is an awesome collaboration and showcases what Bo is really about! Thanks Jewels for an inspiring and truthful review.

  • Cathy from Jacksonville FL

    This is exactly what the Bo fans have been waiting for. This CD will bring him more fans that didn’t even think they liked him. It is an awesome collaboration and showcases what Bo is really about! Thanks Jewels for an inspiring and truthful review.

  • Donna

    Thank you for your on the spot review of Bo’s new CD. This is the real Bo. I love TRT, but this is the CD Bo should have been allowed to do the first time.

    Thanks again, I love your review.

  • Ms Albright

    See the Light is the CD we had hoped for two years ago. Perhaps the time was not right for Bo Bice then but it sure is now. At a recent concert Bo told the fans that his former label had told him that pop radio would not play southern rock. He said, “Well pop radio may not play southern rock, but I do!” No kidding, he rocks my world on this new CD. Great blog, thanks.

  • Cheryl

    I am listening to it right now..wonderful!!! This is the REAL Bo that we have been waiting for.
    Thank you for your wonderful review. I freakin love it!! I am so proud of Bo I could just cry, heck I am crying!! I am so proud of him, he got to do what he does best, and what he loves!
    Rock on Bo!!!!

  • Cheryl, and all who have responded to this blog about Bo. Obviously this album hit all of us emotionally. The thing apparent in the Bo Bice world is we care about him. I felt about the same way as Cheryl when I first listened to the album. This is really Bo, I love this work he put together.

    I’m not a music expert nor a paid professional reviewer. Here on blogcritics.org we’re just opinionated – I just know what I like. I love this album.

    Much Love.

  • Bo Bice Podcast on making this album.Watch it here.

  • LindakayA

    Yes! You hit the nail on the head with your review and I love See the Light! This is the CD we’ve been waiting for and it has been well worth the wait!!! I hope everyone gets See The Light!

    Thank you for spreading the word about what a treat people will be in for when they buy this CD!!

  • pj

    Saw Bo perform in San Bernardino…small audience, but he does a big show! He was excellent….he’s the new, younger Bob Seger! Will buy his albums after seeing him perform.

  • Donna

    I was there too. Yes, Bo rocked the house. He was fantastic!