Not Broken Yet
Singer/songwriter Travis Singleton has a voice that does not sound like John Mayer's. It does not recall Jack Johnson's. Nor does it resemble Jason Mraz's. Although comparisons to Top 40 staples can be flattering, in the cookie-cutter world of the acoustic-pop artist it can actually be a drawback. Give Singleton credit for possessing an individual vocal style-a boyish, crystalline croon that smoothes out the rough edges of his spiky, unplugged riffs. Singleton avoids another common mistake among his guitar-strumming brethren in that his tunes do not meander. Straightforward hooks propel much of the album, and Singleton doesn't waste a minute. Singleton's fresh-faced voice helps give the opening cut, 'Old Habits,' some of it's sparkle, as ringing melodies knock it out of the park. 'The Rise, The Fall' reveals it's subtle, catchy qualities through repeated spins. It's not an instant-impact track but has longevity with it's layers of instrumental depth. 'Burn' and 'Numb' are immediate attention-grabbers namely because of the spear-sharpness of Singleton's acoustic guitars. Singleton's singing on 'Numb' is especially good, rising above the mix with it's youthful exuberance. On 'Everywhere But Up,' Singleton flirts with the mainstream rock of late '90s hitmakers Third Eye Blind without dipping too much into bubblegum. However, most of the record stays within a folkish framework as Singleton's unplugged riffs are absent of studio clutter, giving the songs room to breathe. Nevertheless, Singleton's keen pop instincts prevent the album from appealing only to the NPR crowd. Think of it as coffeehouse music after the caffeine has kicked in.