I find Taylor Hicks much more enjoyable if I’m merely listening to him and I don’t have to watch him in the process. Without cheesy facial expressions and his constipated attempts at dancing that bring to mind an embarrassing uncle who got smashed at a wedding party, I am reminded that he does have a fine voice that can work some fine magic on the ears if he is given the right songs. Taylor Hicks is the debut CD of this fellow and I must say it’s a pleasant one. Unfortunately, it is also generic to the point that I can barely remember any song from this CD even after I’ve given it a few listens.
I don’t know why they are shoving Taylor Hicks onto MTV shows because he looks so out of place with his Uncle Taylor appearance surrounded by people looking young enough to be his children. If this CD is anything to go by right his audience are those who miss the music of Tom Petty, John Mellencamp, and the like that these people are willing to settle down for a watered-down substitute in Taylor Hicks. The fact that he covers Wherever I Lay My Hat is an indication of the music he is making on this CD. Mr Hicks’s attempt at soul a la Ray Charles in The Right Place and Heaven Knows come up hollow and missing a great deal of panache in the vocals. On the other hand, Mr Hicks seems to be more in his element during tracks like Dream Myself Awake and The Maze.
Give Me Tonight is quite icky though, since the idea of this grey-haired forty-something pretending to be a twenty-something fellow coming on to a young lady makes me pause awhile and go, “Eeeuw.” Maybe this track is especially dedicated to those ladies who won’t find Mr Hicks’ brand of milquetoast sexuality bewildering, the Soul Patrol housewives who clearly aren’t buying enough copies of this CD at the time of writing to inflate the sales numbers of this CD. It’s odd, really, that Mr Hicks can credibly channel the voice of the likes of those from Bruce Springsteen to John Mellencamp to other men often held up as rugged examples of cock-rock guitar-stud masculinity in the late 1970s and the 1980s but his physical appearance is anything but that.
I don’t mean to make fun of his physical appearance, mind you, I’m just pointing out the puzzle that is Taylor Hicks that may work against him when it comes to long-term marketability. The tracks on this CD are already generic enough as they are, with nothing that will stand out as that one song that will give this CD legs. At best, they remind me that I haven’t given my collection of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers music a spin in a while. At worst, I find myself thinking that they must have forgotten to print the title of this CD on the sleeve: Taylor Hicks: The Mellencamp Karaoke Nights.
Still, Taylor Hicks is at least giving lounge singers in a dead-end bar in Las Vegas a sliver of hope, no matter how minute, that one day they too will find a group of women that will adore them come what may. But if Taylor Hicks wants to do better than this, given that he is already handicapped by his physical appearance and a sound that is about twenty years out of style, he needs to come up with a CD that has tracks with stronger hooks, tracks that can dig their claws into the listener and never let go.