You Me and the Windshield – 2003 (Mercury)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

CDs by Marcel

The debut of Michigan native Marcel Chagnon was delayed several times for lack of a radio hit, but that shouldn't be considered the kiss of death. Instead, the former professional hockey player who abandoned Los Angeles for Nashville has crafted an album somewhere between traditional and pop.

The production from Byron Gallimore, best known for his work with Tim McGraw, and Marcel is a bit too bright and loud at times ("The Working Day"), and sometimes Marcel gets on the too cute side, like the lead off "Country Rock Star," where he name drops everyone from Springsteen to Brooks & Dunn and Johnny Cash. The McGraw connection is important because McGraw could easily have sung some of the songs, including "Annie Devine."

Marcel is a quality singer thoughout. He turns in a fine performance on the single "Tennessee," where he can alternate between going softer to turning it up a few notches. Ditto for "Take It" and the closing, slower "This Old Diesel." And a duet with girlfriend Jessica Andrews, "I Won't Hold You Down," may be the best song. The music is toned down a lot, given their voices a chance to shine. And Andrews and Marcel compliment each other quite well. Marcel also deserves credit for co-writing all 13 songs. No filler, all meat on them lyrically and musically, and he shows a sense of humor as well. Just tone down the guitars a bit and leave the fiddles in place. Turning in the hockey skates may not have been a bad idea at all.