Roads
by Chris Mann, pop/classical (2012)
Universal Republic, $9.99, ASIN B009A87WMW


I was never a big fan of Chris Mann when he was participating in The Voice, but for some reason, a friend thought I'd love a copy of his first big-time debut effort. Mr Mann had released some stuff independently before, I believe, and his stint at The Voice earned him a recording contract that resulted in Roads.

Well, one thing I have to say: that guy can sure belt the house down, if that last high note of his version of My Way is any indication. But his selection of songs here are pretty dire, mostly in how clichéd they are.

His version of Frank Sinatra's My Way is absolutely necessary, I suppose, as a statement of his finally coming to age to do things his way, if by "his way", he means singing the same overplayed and overexposed songs that had been done by Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Il Divo, and other staples of elevators in department stores all over the world. The world is also dying, simply dying, for another cover version of Elvis Presley's Always On My Mind. And since he adds nothing new in his versions of such songs apart from interminable vibrato, I don't think he's bringing home the gold anytime soon.

The other songs are hit and miss, mostly because some of the admittedly decent songs are killed by Mr Mann's efforts to warble out the notes until everything starts to wobble. Unless You Mean It seems like a great song if only Mr Mann hadn't attempted to show off his vocal range by over-singing everything to death. That song, if performed with some semblance of subtlety, would have been a gorgeous and moody song. On A Night Like This starts out a bit too much like Michael Bolton's Gone The Distance, but again, it could have been the perfect song for candlelight dinners and such if only Mr Mann hadn't sounded like his tonsils are in danger of coming loose and flying out to hit the poor diners in the forehead. Seriously, it's hard to feel like making babies when I'm wincing at how contrived and showy the whole performance is.

If Mr Mann ever crosses my path again - and I'm saying this because, let's face it, artists who got a recording deal after a gig on reality TV shows have notoriously short shelf lives - I certainly hope he has mastered some semblance of subtlety. He has a nice voice, it's just a matter of using it to his advantage instead of showing off just how high and how loud he can go with every single note. Oh, and some more imagination and creativity in song choices wouldn't hurt as well.

Rating: 56


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