Still in his early twenties, the young American artist J. C. Andersen already shows a lot of promise. He has a good voice and he's learning how to use it to best advantage. Looking at the liner notes and the publicity materials, he also seems to have garnered a lot of support from other artists early in their careers as well as members of the Nashville establishment. If this combination of latent talent and networking doesn't give this young man's career a jump-start, then nothing will.
Except for one song he wrote on his own and one he co-wrote with John Bulford, Andersen has chosen songs for his debut release written by other young Nashville artists. In making this decision, he has also avoided doing new interpretations of already well-known songs. Each of these selections is a wise one. Because the CD features mostly songs he has not written, listeners will be able to focus on his singing. Because there are no so-called "cover" songs in the set, he can't be compared (potentially unfavourably) with some popular "original" artist.
Working with producer Ted Hewitt, Andersen has managed to come up with flawless, cleanly engineered arrangements played with a cadre of ten young musicians. This slickly produced musical bed provides the ideal setting for Andersen's polished vocals. Between the quality behind these songs and Andersen's youthful good looks (credits for this sound recording include a "Stylist" and "Hair and Makeup" artist), this young man's recordings should appeal to a broad audience of young country music fans.
I must say, to my ear, every song in this set sounds too slick and commercial. The sound feels manufactured, like the so-called "boy bands" of the nineties or the "formula" bands that were assembled in the seventies to be instant hit-machines. The songs sound like a lot of the hokey schlock released by Garth Brooks in his prime. Listening to the music and hearing the lyrics, I almost get the sense that, rather than having been written from the heart, these songs were manufactured to some formula of hooks and phrases designed to grab the ears of popular radio programmers.
Part of this sense that these songs lack depth and are primarily about surface impressions may go to life experience, or lack of it. At 22 years of age, Andersen is singing about life events that he may not yet have actually experienced and may not experience until he is much older, if at all. If you don't know or understand the emotion that underlies the story, then it's difficult if not impossible to express that emotion.