Singer Blake Whyte who has appeared on Broadway in Wicked and Mamma Mia! makes a promising entrance into the pop market with his debut album More Like Myself, an uneven collection of 14 original tunes ranging from more or less generic love ballads to personal anthems. He has a dynamic vocal persona—gritty and emotionally raw—with the kind of dramatic power that gets the most from his material. Given what he does with even the lesser pieces on the album, it would be nice to hear what he can do with consistently top-rate material.
Whyte writes beautiful melodies. Unfortunately his lyrics don’t always measure up. Whether he falls back on a cliché like “your way or the highway” or a banality like “the moon high up in the sky,” too often he seem to settle for an easy rhyme or phrase. Often he repeats phrases again and again almost as if he couldn’t come up with anything new. At his best, when his lyrics do justice to his melodies, Whyte is everything you could want in a pop star. He just needs to make sure he is at his best through the whole album.
For example, more honestly felt material like “Common Ground,” a song Whyte says describes “a true epiphany moment” in his life when he suffered from altitude sickness on climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, is the kind of effective material he needs to cultivate throughout. Here, when you get a repeated line like “we are all one,” it seems emotionally justified. In some of the other songs he manages to avoid the banal. A line like “love and friends and trees will set us free,” from the album’s title song, is a brilliant original line, as is the opening metaphor in “Letting You Go.” “Floating high we set ourselves free/I jump for my cloud then you jump for yours.” It is a bitter sweet descriptor of the feelings at the end of a relationship. The absolutely gorgeous piano intro which opens the tune reminds me of a Willie Nelson classic. “Daddy’s Son” and “I’ll Be Back” make honest personal statements, while the “Summer Love Soul” duet with Celisse Henderson is a fine change of pace.
More Like Myself is a good beginning. When he puts it all together, Blake Whyte shows he has the chops for pop success.