What is now Lee Brice's first long-play record once went by the moniker "Picture of Me," and he still refers to it as the "spiritual title." Along with a song by that name, there are slices of life aplenty about growing up smack dab in the center of South Carolina. For those that didn't have the privilege, it sounds like a whole lot of fun.
The showpiece is the title track, which lays out the guidelines to make relationships last and life worthwhile - it's a winner that shoots high and scores. Brice shows off particular talent in pulling off songs with feeling that keep their pop/country power hooks intact. Nothing here drowns in a sea of synthesizers or violins - that's all swapped out for (occasionally dazzling) guitar work by an ace backing band. He also knows how to deliver a love song with a wink of bad-boy mischief (These Last Few Days). The whole set only goes wildly off-course once with Four on the Floor - a hick-hop mess that sounds like it was sung through a bullhorn.
Brice's voice has no standout trait - you might mistake him for Billy Ray Cyrus or Rodney Atkins on the radio without guidance - but it's still high-quality deep and a good tonal fit for his subject matter. And don't miss the very pleasing twist on the closer Happy Endings: it sets a sad scene where the lover has run off, but then the chorus poses that it all still might work out. In delivering a debut of optimism grounded in down-home realism, Brice proves his worthiness on the country scene.