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Buddy Jewell

Times Like These – 2005 (Columbia)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by Buddy Jewell

Winning one of those be-a-music-star TV shows can be a blessing and a bane. Obviously it can shift your career into high gear, but there's stigma attached to it that can be hard to shake. Just ask Sawyer Brown. So Buddy Jewell has more than a mere sophomore jinx to look out for here. He has to prove that his "Nashville Star" win and his gold debut single were deserved, that he's a real musician and not some guy who got lucky on a game show.

Jewell's obviously aware of this. He took his time releasing a follow-up and he signed legendary producer Garth Fundis to help him out. It's also evidenced by the safety of his choices. For the most part, this is well-trod ground he's traveling. The title track is a meditation on life and the fleeting innocence of childhood, and if it lacks the poetry of "Help Pour Out the Rain," it still feels heartfelt. "Dyess Arkansas" is a love song to small-town living. It's very reminiscent of "Sweet Southern Comfort" - not to mention every other song Alabama ever recorded.

But if his second CD is not the treasure chest Jewell was hoping for, it's not exactly a pile of pyrite either. "Addicted to the Rain" is an interesting look at the conflicting emotions arising after a breakup. "You Ain't Doin' It Right" catchily calls for living life to the fullest, and the first single "If She Were Any Other Woman" and "Me Lovin' You" are perfectly serviceable love songs. But all in all, it might be better is Jewell's next record is a little more spontaneous and personal.