Taylor Hicks
Taylor Hicks



by John Cruz USER (97 Reviews)
December 15th, 2006 | 17 replies

Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Winner of the fifth season of that phenom TV show we call American Idol, Taylor Hicks is not your typical amateur vocalist looking for a shot at the big time. In fact he isn't an amateur at all, but an old pro at the game. Casting himself among other Idol hopefuls, from high school choir boys to the somewhat seasoned club performers and singing vets who have worked small stages near and far across our great land, Hicks shamelessly joined the crowd as a seasoned performer of some merit. Moving to Nashville early in his career looking for a shot at making a name for himself he found session work (he also plays guitar and harmonica), cut demos, performed in clubs and at private parties (even making it out west for a gig at The Playboy Mansion) cut two independent albums, and had enough of a regional name to perform in the center field of the Talladega Superspeedway in 2004 at that years "NASCAR Weekend" event. And of those independent albums? Isn't that against Idol rules? Well, not exactly. American Idol rules say a performer cannot be signed to a record deal prior, it says nothing of recording. Even if those recordings are yours and yours alone. Advantage: Hicks.

So what do we get from Taylor post Idol win? Well, we get a pretty good album of popish blue-eyed soul with a little broken hearted vision all its own. Looking like a man 10 years his senior with his prematurely gray mop top (Hicks is just 29 years old) and sounding it just as well, this is probably the most accomplished, confident, and focused "debut" album of any AI winner right from the start.

Taylor's voice is a full bodied, raspy tenor with considerable range and its perfectly suited to these mainstream, commercially oriented soulful rave ups and ballads. The sound of familiarity is strong in this collection of adult oriented R&B, ready for radio potential hits. And Hicks hits the ground running with the horn led, gospel infused "The Runaround", with Taylor sounding like the confident bandleader he apparently is right out of the gate, his voice front and center and pushed far up in the mix. Its an old school style toe tapper that is sure to have yuppies and boomers all across the country tapping their fingers across the steering wheels of their BMW's. Likewise the next cut up "Dream Myself Awake" features big blasts of horns across a more conventional pop groove that might be right at home on a Matchbox 20 album, but Hick's heartfelt vocal inflections somehow elevate this otherwise bland tune head and shoulders above what might be DOA in the hands of other so called "blue eyed soul" artists. And he gets right back to the gospel flavored R&B stuff with the finger snapping, hand clapping, man on his knees pleader "Heaven Knows", the soul dripping heavy from this forceful track.

Not to give you the impression this is quite authentic. It is not by any stretch of the imagination. This is pop music well disguised as R&B and Soul. And on tunes such as Marvin Gaye's "Wherever I Lay My Hat", "Places I've Been", and "Just To Feel That Way" not so well disguised, as these mundane tracks would be right at home on any god awful Micheal Bolten or Richard Marx album from the mid '80's. The difference being Hicks actually has the vocal chops and the subtlety to make these songs passable as soulful and somewhat engaging pop ballads, never forcing the issue or trying to make more of the cuts then what they are. But if some tracks fall short of spectacular Taylor's experience and professionalism carries him through on funky R&B cuts like the spunky "Give Me Tonight" with its jumpy bass lines and sexy female backing vocals, as well as on the reflective "Soul Thing", which has him wearing his blue eyed soul squarely on his sleeve. The lyrics of most of these songs are cliched at best, the music fairly generic R&B 101.

All is well crafted however, professionally performed, and in the singers case the songs have the sound of a veteran performer trying to make the best of his one big shot, and for the most part succeeding. The album isn't scattered as one might expect of a debut from an American Idol hopeful. Rather it has focus and direction musically and lyrically with most songs focusing on the ins and outs of heartbreak, break ups, and having a good time as a way to heal those wounds. And Hicks even contributes one of his own songs to close the album, along with the Bryan Adams penned "The Right Place". And on the latter Taylor shows his affinity for gospel music comes from the heart and not the desire for a million seller, as he does this tribute to Ray Charles more then enough justice and then some. And its most likely the best pure song on the record.

An album for the non too demanding music fan or an American Idol fanatic, Taylor Hicks big time debut album will most likely do very well, as it has a built in audience ready to snatch it up. Its overtly commercial music making without being crass, soulful but not black, pop but not bubblegum or dismissable. Solid, engaging at times, and ultimately very listenable, Hicks wins you over the same way he won over millions of judges on that bright and shiny TV show not so long ago. Not the best vocalist on the block in a technical sense, he nonetheless is a seasoned pro and knows how to deliver these tunes with gusto and gumption. If you saw Hicks during his winning season on TV you saw a personable, charismatic, charming performer bringing the audience with him, dancing across the stage like any other clumsy white boy singing black music, and winning over one and all with his everyman personality. And his "first" third album is the same, as it all comes through just as it did coming into our homes via satellite and cable. Not amazing or spectacular, this is middle of the road stuff all the way. But its a road Taylor Hicks knows well, and on this first big shot at the big time he drives down that road straight, narrow, and fully in charge. Not bad for the winner of a glorified high school talent contest.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
December 15th 2006


Album Rating: 3.0

this is my review of the "debut" from this American Idol dude...hope you enjoyed it...

The Jungler
December 15th 2006


Jesus Christ, way to make up for any sort of Staff slowness. You rule.
This guy wasn't bad, I kind of wish he had mixed it up and done a few song with more modern guests (Snoop Dog, Pharrel, Kanye) I think he would have been huge like that, but heck, you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

December 15th 2006


Album Rating: 3.0

oh, if you want Snoop check out Tyrese's stab at thug rap on his new album. man, thats a shocker. two discs, one of which is completely hardcore rap from this model turned actor turned soulman turned...gangsta...it wouldn't be funny if he were any good...but man, it has to be heard to be believed. he calls it his "alter ego". he be trippin' is all i can say....

December 15th 2006


Album Rating: 3.0


why oh why even with spell check do they slip by

Staff Reviewer
December 15th 2006


Because spell checkers don't account for human error, heh. You can't blame a calculator for botching a calculation - it's the user who inputs the data.
Good review, though. I honestly didn't care about American Idol this year - I watched the beginning episodes to see how scathing Simon Cowell could be, and then towards the end my interest re-piqued because I thought Chris Daughtry was going to win in a landslide. Then he lost, and my next choice was going to be this guy, who was such a spazz on stage that his personality and charisma grew on people. Also, the other girl (that Catherine McPhee or whatever the hell her name was) wasn't very good, save for her performance of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." And she definitely lacked the necessary charisma and, uh, personality needed for an American Idol, so Hicks deserved to win. Kudos for reviewing this album and sitting through it somehow.

Liberi Fatali
December 16th 2006


I thought Chris Daughtry was going to win in a landslide.

Ew you must be mad fool.

December 16th 2006


i'm not a fan of this guy at all, not my type of music, but my elementary school that i went to was named Taylor Hicks, so i thought that was kind of cool. nice review

December 19th 2006


I thought Catherine should've won, especially because of Over the Rainbow. Chris Daughtry wasn't very good and I've never really liked Taylor Hicks' voice for whatever reason. I don't think I need to hear this

January 1st 2007


He looks way too much like George Clooney...

January 9th 2007


He's only 29? Poor guy.

March 25th 2007


America Idol would be a terrible start to a music career. The only successful American Idol winner is Kelly Clarkson and she is struggling none the less. It is more of a show to make money off of its ratings, not to find new talent.

March 25th 2007


Kelly Clarkson isn't struggling.

April 19th 2007


Album Rating: 1.5

lol Kelly Clarkson struggling? She's one of the most successful people in music in the '00's. She was working on her new CD for awhile and 'disappeared' because of it, I guess, but no.

I think Taylor's CD was kind of horrible. Unless you like bland, lounge singers a lot.

April 19th 2007


I always hated Taylor Hicks. >:[

April 19th 2007


American Idol has become a joke, and either the minds behind it are completely oblivious or they all realize it, so either one would explain why AI is still going.

artificial intelligence if you ask me lawl

Digging: Geotic - Abysma

August 11th 2010


This guy did like one ford commercial and that was it.

August 11th 2010


this is my jam

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