Some people see Chris Daughtry as another kid from American Idol, riding the name of the show to success. Pop stations immediately took to him for that reason. But think about it - really - how much of his stuff do you hear regularly in the top 40 mixes? Maybe "Home" and even "No Surprise," but really, if it's not a new single, it's not on often. Reason being, in my mind, Chris and his band are really much more of rockers than top 40 is willing to deal with on a constant basis.
The first single, and probably what you've heard already, is "Crawling Back to You." So completely not the first song I would have released to promote a new album on the stations this band is typically played on. I'm searching their site now to find out why (daughtryofficial.com, and holy cow their PR person does an excellent job of keeping that news page full and recent!), and this song actually debuted on their site SECOND to another song "Renegade". They created a slow release - first a snippet, the full song a few days later, a sweet acoustic radio performance in early October, and finally the iTunes download. This was all within a week, giving fans a nice build up I suppose. I just wish I liked the song more. However, it has been a couple years since these guys last put out an album (Leave This Town), so when I heard this voice coming through my car speakers again, I was pretty stoked - maybe not for the song itself, but definitely excited that new music was on its way!
Here's the video that was released on Vimeo (NOT YouTube - whoa) around 10.27.11. YouTube got it about a month ago. This was our first taste of this album:
Okay, now we know how this album got into the world's view, then was released on November 21st, just in time to enjoy over the Thanksgiving holiday.
So let's chat a little bit about the tracks themselves.
*headphones in* and here we go!
"Renegade" actually kicks off this album. Chris breaks out that megaphone of his again, I'm sure of it (he's done it on previous albums). It's a good pump-up song to kick things up. We follow up with the first single "Crawling Back To You," which, to me, is a tortured song that I could not imagine singing myself (a factor I use to judge my liking of a lot of music), mostly because of the subject. I did miss Chris' belting voice though - that guy is a talented rocker, no doubt. He shows it again in "Outta My Head," the third track, keeping the rock guitar going, which definitely got my head bobbing in time. There's still that sadness to this track though, with the focus largely being on getting over someone. I mean, I can relate, but I just am not completely into the rhythm of this chorus.
Then we get into a string of four of my top favorites on the album, "Start of Something Good," "Crazy," "Break the Spell," and "We're Not Gonna Fall."
"Start of Something Good" starts off on a softer note than the first few tracks, bringing us right in with the lyrics "You never know when you're gonna meet someone, and your whole wide world in a moment comes undone." If you've felt that, you're hooked into what he's about to say (which is about renewal of life thanks to love and the belief in it), and if you haven't experienced it, you know you want to have this song become your story. "I've got to admit that it's crossed my mind that this might end up like it should."
We're stepping the pace back up in "Crazy" and talking a little more about the struggles of love. I think the relatability aspect is what gets me on this one. Who hasn't been hung up on the wrong person/place/thing? Interesting way of putting this concept into a song - I'm not sure I've heard it done before. Then the guys launch into the title track, "Break the Spell," which is just great music. Lots of metaphors. Not completely sure why this was chosen as the title, but it makes for a mysterious, interesting listen musically. Great use of some haunting variety.
Chris goes back to belting in "We're Not Gonna Fall," which I'm pretty sure I'm just a fan of because I'm a sucker for the power anthem. Hey, I'm young and naive, give me a break. For a similar reason, I'm actually not that okay listening to "Gone Too Soon," because I can't deal with songs about death well, especially of young people. This is particularly about a child, and I really want to get into Chris' head on the writing process on this one.
Oh, another four pack of wonderfulness coming! "Losing My Mind" brings the musical mood back up a little bit. It tells a story, which is awesome in today's popular music and something you don't get to hear often enough outside of country. He meets the girl, she makes him dizzy, he asks her out, knowing there's something special. "Everything single little thing you Chris alternates between lightly held out notes and belting, giving an interesting dynamic to this track.
And then there's "Rescue Me," which is quite possibly my favorite song on this album. No lie, listened to it 3 times while writing this. It's, to me, about finally realizing something's there. It's also something I wish I could shout something at someone. It's also something I absolutely love musically. "Rescue me... middle of the ocean..." Fade out. Then on into "Louder Than Ever" - I need this on a CD just to blast it down the highway!! "Two hearts on the getaway... young love on the freeway - I hear it louder than ever!!"
Stick with me here, 5 songs to go. By the way - who makes a 16 track album anymore?? Oh, that's right, awesome artists who CAN write that much material. With tracks like "Spaceship" that reach audiences like me looking for hope in music. I don't love the whole "see me on a spaceship leaving," concept, but I do love the theme of getting away and reaching for more. The whole not-being-alone thing is kind of a nice dream too.
"Who's They" is a little annoying to me for some reason. I mean, I get it, but I don't enjoy it. I like that it's darker though - this is the Daughtry I first got into with Daughtry. Rocker; bad ass; soulful. Edgiest "na na na na na"s I've ever heard! Going into "Maybe We're Already Gone" sort of gives me the same rocking feel. I like this one more, but I think the 2-note-feel chorus bores me a little.
"Everything But Me" is a slower number on the album, about a love gone and pointing it out to them. Maybe a "don't-know-what-you-have-till-it's-gone" message for the receiver? Like I said, I judge a lot on if I'd want to sing them, and this is one I'm feeling big time right now. Then we end on "Lullaby". People who have heard this are going to hate me for not including it in my favorites, but until I'm a mom on the road as a singer and leaving kids at home, I just won't feel it. I love the raw nature of this (solo voice, one guitar, reverb of an open tiled room), and it's adorable, and an incredibly sweet way to close out a very great album.
Here's the breakdown:
(As a preface - I keep a list on my Spotify account called "Stuff I Wouldn't Mind Hearing Again" for any song I hear in listening through that I could casually listen to again.)
Here's what made it to my future listening list from this album (including Spotify links to check them out yourselves!!) --
- "Start of Something Good" - http://open.spotify.com/track/0dEI6hv2ovN18wcYC3Wygi
- "Crazy" - http://open.spotify.com/track/1AqaabdOU94frenJkbNDUL
- "Break the Spell" - http://open.spotify.com/track/36YXkGDbyS5iviV5EfQbsM
- "We're Not Gonna Fall" - http://open.spotify.com/track/1y1NCLMyBaJZS1KZguXbHV
- "Losing My Mind" - http://open.spotify.com/track/3UCfvo6sY8mdNLabUIzI8t
- "Rescue Me" - http://open.spotify.com/track/2pcCxAUSgEoiXNdQCYBcWE
- "Louder Than Ever" - http://open.spotify.com/track/2F8WYsad1UHouaheibxoRL
- "Spaceship" - http://open.spotify.com/track/5iZCP3xqcoThl87Xv9zurI
- "Everything But Me" - http://open.spotify.com/track/3jJ1nI162jf9xnCHqBt2RP
9/16, not bad - over half the album! This one definitely breaks the mold on the recent idea of people only liking a couple of songs on an album and not buying the whole thing. There's enough here to buy the whole thing for sure.
I think this was a great third album for this band. It was powerful without being overwhelming; still their sound without being a carbon copy of the previous two releases. Daughtry keeps impressing me, and I can't wait to hear more of these on the radio. This band is talented, knows their style and how to use it, and can (PLEASE!) keep on making music as long as they'd like.