Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Off to Join the World
Genres: Country, Pop
For too long, superficiality has dominated Nashville's marketing of teen artists. Plans to turn "the kids" on to country usually involve offering young fashion-plate acts dishing out trite, superficial music cynically cont... more »
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For too long, superficiality has dominated Nashville's marketing of teen artists. Plans to turn "the kids" on to country usually involve offering young fashion-plate acts dishing out trite, superficial music cynically contrived by Music Row to appeal to the MTV crowd. It's an approach that rarely succeeds. To his credit, Blaine Larsen, an 18-year-old native of Buckley, Washington, has no truck with such nonsense. A longtime admirer of George Strait, his muscular, Strait-like traditionalism is long on honesty and heart, free of artifice. He applies an expressive voice, mature beyond its years, to pained love ballads ("The Man He'll Never Be"), thoughtful youth numbers ("In My High School"), homages ("If Merle Would Sing My Song") and affable country pride ("That's Just Me"). "The Best Man" salutes Larsen's stepdad. "How Do You Get That Lonely," a gripping tale of teen suicide, pulls no punches. By taking his music seriously and treating his audience with respect, Larsen's stunning, mature debut--one teenagers and parents alike can appreciate--bodes well for his future. --Rich Kienzle
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A worthy debut by a great new artist!
DanD | 01/26/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Goodbye cruel circus/I'm off to join the world" Larsen sings on the title track to this credible debut album. It's a perfect fit, too--he's leaving the wacky world of high school and entering the equally-messed-up world of music. And so far, he's doing good!
OFF TO JOIN THE WORLD features, more than anything, Larsen's superb vocal skills. A guy of only 18 years (my age; finally, someone from my generation who can actually SING), he brings surprising maturity to such songs as "How Do You Get That Lonely," which deals with dispair and suicide. He sings "If Merle Would Sing My Song," penned by songwriter-extraordinaire Skip Ewing, with such conviction you know its coming straight from his heart. Larsen himself has more than a touch of the songwriter's gift; he penned "The Man He'll Never Be," which surprisingly avoids the cliches; "In My High School," which--if you haven't been in a high school in a while--paints a pretty acurate picture of adolescent life; "Yessireebob," a funny little diddy about jobs you never think of (but dream of having); and several others. Not the best songwriter in the world, no...but not too bad.
OFF TO JOIN THE WORLD is Blaine Larsen's major-label debut. His voice--a blend between Blake Shelton and Wade Hayes, with just a touch of Waylon Jennings thrown in there for good measure--cuts through the sometimes over-produced songs, lending this album a credibility that debut records rarely have. This is country music with a traditional side, sung by a guy who obviously loves the music. Could Blaine Larsen be the future of country music? I'll tell you in a few years...but I have my hunches."
Accomplished debut from 18-year-old country music newcomer
hyperbolium | Earth, USA | 02/05/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Larsen is unusual in a number of ways. First, he's one of a very few Nashville country stars to hail from Washington state (Seattle-born session player Mark O'Connor is the other one that comes to mind). Second, despite his slight years (just 18 at the time that most of these tracks were recorded) and baby face, you'd be hard-pressed to call him a child star. In particular, his baritone voice has a surprisingly fetching honky-tonk edge, and his songs (both his own, and those he corralled) are quite sophisticated. Larsen leaves the gate with the same sort of jaw-dropping maturity offered by LeAnn Rimes on "Blue."
The album's treasure is a reading of Mark Sanders and Shawn Camp's "Off to Join the World (The Circus Song)." This whimsically tragic waltz features acoustic guitars and mandolin, supplemented by march-styled drumming and the occasional ringmaster's whistle. Larsen sings with a depth that belies the relatively few times his heart could have been broken in his first 18 years. Throughout the album his age provides an interesting dichotomy - on the one hand, he hasn't yet lived through all of these emotions, on the other, as an adolescent he's bound to feel things more fully and immediately than most adults.
Several songs play off of Larsen's adolescence, exploring a teenager's contemplation of a first kiss, step-fathers, peer groups, and another teen's suicide. Sung in such a burnished first-person voice, they transcend their teenage viewpoint. Larsen has the easy confidence of George Strait but with a tone and edginess that takes in Randy Travis, Clint Black, and Alan Jackson. The album is polished, but surprisingly rootsy for a Nashville production, with plenty of guitar, mandolin, steel and fiddle. This reissue of 2004's "In My High School" adds one track ("That's All I've Got To Say About That") to the original 10.
Whether or not Larsen can sustain a career is more of an issue for the winds of industry than his innate talent. At least he won't have to make the awkward transition from child-voiced prodigy to full-throated adult, as he's already got the latter nailed."
Jay T. | 01/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you like Alan, George, or Brad you are sure to enjoy this CD. His voice is excellent and it sounds like he is older than he actually is. While I listen to this CD I actually feel like he is feeling what he's singing, which is unusual for me. The songs are all good, especially the slow ones, which are powerful. This is the best CD I have bought in a long time."