Ready reference points for newcomer Shannon Lawson are Billy Ray Cyrus and Collin Raye. Think a bit bluesy, a bit soulful, but he doesn't quite have the grit of Billy Ray, who you could easily imagine singing these songs (especially the lead off "This Old Heart" with nice mandolin playing from Chris Thile and "Superstar"). As for Raye, Lawson emulates his smooth, very bright sounding vocals.
Lawson certainly sings well enough, but he doesn't seem to invest in the subject matter precisely because of the smoothness factor. Lawson may echo others, but he doesn't blaze his own trail for the most part on the 11 songs. And the playing is almost down the line generic.
He does, however, on by far the most different song - the hidden track, "They Hung Him on the Cross." Lawson sings the gospel song a cappella.
Well there is one more song real different, a breezy version of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On." The song just doesn't fit at all. Too bad Lawson wasn't as willing to take more worthy chances on an album far less dangerous than its title allows.