Chariot - Stripped
by Gavin DeGraw, pop/rock (2004)
J Records, ASIN B0002IQJUK

Chariot - Stripped is a special repackage of Gavin DeGraw's 1993 CD Chariot with a special CD Stripped which contains acoustic performances of all the songs on Chariot along with a bonus track A Change Is Gonna Come. I really like the track Chariot which is the reason why I bought this CD (oh, and that I can't resist the special price of this dual-CD package).

After listening to the two CDs, I must say that most of the tracks aren't really too different on the two CDs. I prefer the acoustic version of Chariot but the acoustic version of I Don't Wanna Be is subpar compared to the original. And frankly, I prefer American Idol 4 runner-up Bo Bice's rendition of this song. The arrangement of this song on the show, complete with killer violins and other orchestral hooks especially during the bridge, is far superior than the derivative electric guitars on this track.

My problem with the two CDs is that most of the tracks are dull. Mr DeGraw's music, lyrically and melodically, is pretty much derivative of those of the college rock-jock dudes out there, from the granddaddy of schlock John Mayer to the dud-dude Jason Mraz, with the rare occasional contrived "street toughness" of songs like I Don't Wanna Be to drive home the fact that Mr DeGraw is tougher than those female kittens like Jason Mraz. It's hard to be convinced though when Mr DeGraw sings about being surrounded by liars and wanting to start some antiestablishment rebellion so that he can be himself, because what exactly is the man's true self? The droopy-eyed boyfriend in Follow Through, the messiah in Chariot, or the junkie in Chemical Party?

As someone dabbling in a rock subgenre devoted to pleasing teenaged girls and their mothers, Mr DeGraw is just another poster-boy to drive his audience into raptures. Maybe he's a better performer live which will make up for the melodic genericity of his CD. Maybe. That doesn't change the fact that there aren't any standout tracks here except maybe for the acoustic version of Chemical Party, enhanced by some fabulous soulful background vocals that nearly convince me that I am chilling in some Jamaican hashish den. It's hard to claim credibility when one's song is the theme song of a teen-show on TV and this very song is outsung by a contestant on American Idol. He's prettier than John Mayer but pales in comparison to Jason Mraz and, of course, Adam Levine, but really, I'm not looking for a new poster boy to grace my bedroom walls.

Rating: 68

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