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Scotty McCreery – Clear As Day – Album Review
Scotty McCreery was undeniably an old school country boy on AI, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t questions about the kind of music he would release after the show. Traditional country isn’t exactly pervasive at country radio these days, nor is there an established market in country music for male teenagers. How many songs are out there that fit a traditional country-leaning 17 year old guy and how would Scotty bear up in a marketplace that has recently seen a surge from 30-something males like Blake Shelton, Eric Church, Luke Bryan, and Jake Owen and the 26 year old Chris Young?
Scotty answers with an album that mixes songs about family and small town life with songs exploring young love and attraction with a little more candor than you might expect, and a mix of production choices that range from rootsy to orchestral. Although Scotty’s traditional country style remains obvious in his voice, Clear As Day is more of a contemporary country album whose best moments show Scotty staking out his place on the country scene as a young man with a special knack for channeling the earnestness and sense of humor he used to navigate AI into his songs.
What are those best moments? They start around the midpoint of what turns out to be a backloaded album. The energy of Clear As Day takes a noticeable step up with the first chords of “Walk In The Country”, and Scotty sings as if he’s finally getting to cut loose. Even his voice seems to open up from a technical standpoint. Scotty shows some good-natured hillbilly pride delivering lyrics that work just as well as a humorous reflection on how much American Idol/Hollywood made him miss home as they do as a way of asking a girl out on a date or a way of inviting his mainstream AI fans to go country with him. The guitar work may not come from the song’s co-writer Keith Urban but it is just as infectious as the song.
Scotty brings that same cheekiness and flirtiness to the album’s most pleasant surprise: “Write My Number On Your Hand”. What’s surprising about the song is the way it combines Scotty’s most old school country delivery (think Roger Miller) with contemporary beachy production that recalls some of Kenny Chesney and Zac Brown Band’s big hits, and also how Scotty delivers lines like “River drenched bikini sittin pretty on her hips” and “I was wantin to kiss her like an old bullfrog” without sounding like a lewd dirtbag. This might be Scotty’s strongest vocal on the whole album as well as his best interpretation for how well he expresses the awkwardness and fun of the courtship game.
Scotty also does really well on a couple of songs exploring more expected themes like the flush of young love and homesickness. His voice sounds rich and joyful on “Better Than That”, a catchy uptempo outburst of happiness built on a sweet melody that recalls 90s country/pop. It would be even stronger if the chorus were a little more sophisticated lyrically but it’s still a great fit for Scotty because it lets him channel the unfettered enthusiasm only a kid can really get away with having.