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Sunday, July 10, 2005

"Everything and more" a wholesome alternative

I'm always a bit hesitant to give kudos to a talented vocalist, for fear they'll go the way of Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake. Too often, a wholesome singer gets "big" then mutates overnight from a mild PG to a strong R, a definite turn-off.

With that disclaimer, let me recommend a new album from difficult-to-label Billy Gilman. "Everything and more" was in the "country" section at the store where I picked it up, but many of the cuts on the CD can hardly be called "country" in the traditional sense. The title cut (also a video, according to Gilman's website) spotlights the former boy soprano's new high tenor range. As a second tenor myself, I appreciate the ease with which he navigates the higher notes. The nearly two year exile imposed upon him is already paying dividends. "Looked into the wings," a later cut on the album, chronicles the young performer's angst as he wonders whether he'll ever sing again. This touching tribute to his manager Angela's unshakeable faith in him resonates with anyone who has ever had their best gift put in doubt.

Gilman sometimes sings as one teenager to another. "Missed you on Sunday" shows concern for a friend who is missing church and drifting toward the shadows. "Peaceable kingdom" is another hat-tip to Christianity, and indicative of the kind of soft-pedaled faith that won't please the fundamentalist, but is likely to build bridges to those seeking faith. In a day when many teens live in cocoons no bigger than their own high school, Billy shows sensitivity to world events. "Is anybody out there?" is a cry for help from a soldier wounded on a battlefield in Iraq. On the other hand, Billy's not afraid to lighten-up with the more honky-tonk sounding "Three words, two hearts, one kiss," a sure crowd pleaser.

Like any maturing artist, there's always room for improvement. Gilman's first instincts to exclude "Awaken the music" from the CD may have been correct. This modern interpretation of a Mozart composition includes rapid lyrics that are difficult to decipher; the song seems the odd-one-out stylistically.

Gilman's appeal is clear: implicit faith, wholesome lyrics, and the common touch. "Everything and more" was my Father's Day gift, but it has multi-generational appeal, if the number of times my sons played it in the car on our recent vacation is any indication. It's an auspicious return to the stage for a likeable star with a bright future. Keep up the good work, Billy, and never give anyone a reason to miss you on Sunday.


At 2:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to the leaflet that comes with the CD "Everything and more", the song "Looked into the wings" is actually about Billy Gilman's manager, not his vocal coach. Also, his manager's name is Angela, not Sandy. In the song "Missed you on Sunday", no where does it say it is from one friend to another. The relationship is very unclear.

At 3:07 PM, Blogger Double Birdie said...

Hey, anon, you're exactly right! I've update the review to reflect your corrections. As for "Missed you on Sunday," he does mention walking someone home "through the danger zone." It probably is a female friend who is now going a bit crazy. Ever see the movie "13"? I think that's what this song is getting at.

Thanks for the comment, and keep reading!


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