Powerhouse rock vocalist Chris Daughtry and his namesake band work to bridge a gap between arena rock and country rock on Baptized.
The new album, their fourth, mostly works out its goal with the help of some acoustic folk textures.
Although it’s not one of the singles, I’ll Fight is a convincing case for Daughtry and company’s success in their sound chase. The track is an acoustic rocker that the band syncs into – a sound that’s a natural fit for Daughtry’s mix of Madison Square Garden and Grand Ol’ Opry.
The acoustic textures on the album highlight the band’s drive and accent the keening twang latent in Daughtry’s vocabulary (The World We Know). Baptized also has the sheen and gloss of platinum-perfect arena rock.
It’s all mixed in with big choruses and some clichés, clever and well-arranged enough to bring a coliseum to its feet (Long Live Rock and Roll). This over-used theme is an “aw, shucks” name dropping postcard from the recent past that’s clever, obvious and cheesy.
At some points, the album seems locked into a hard rock/new country hybrid. It deals in clichés, images and poses that classic rock abandoned sometime around 1980. Like new country, it’s done without vision and conviction.
A song that sonically bucks this trend is the single, Waiting for Superman, a typical tale of a lost, spaced-out maiden, wedded to the overdone rock and roll Superman motif.
Daughtry and his band can rock out in big arenas and they’re mixing in country, acoustic and some folk elements but the end result lacks authenticity.
Daughtry’s a passionate singer who can express himself effortlessly but he and the band don’t need to be so polished and hit-driven that precision muffles the spirit of the music.
If the songwriting and production team were reduced, Baptized wouldn’t sound so contrived.
– Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who reviews new music releases for The Morning Star.