This past weekend, I posted a review of American Idol season 8 finalist Danny Gokey’s fantastic concert in Emeryville. However, little did you know that just hours before I headed down to the show, I listened to the debut album that he was promoting for the very first time.
I was a fan of Gokey on Idol ever since his audition – he had a wonderful stage presence about him and I was in awe of the soul and that rough quality in his voice. During the Idols summer tour, he proved to be a captivating performer, also quite versatile as he tackled on tunes by Michael Jackson, Santana, and Rascal Flatts. The last artist is of a style he has decided to take on for his debut album, My Best Days: country. Although I personally didn’t think it’d be the best fit for him, I thought it’d be something that could work for him. With his winning Rascal Flatts covers on tour, plus his Christian background and influences, I believed that he’d be able to evoke the inspirational messages that many country songs speak of.
After hearing My Best Days, I now believe he has taken an excellent route.
Gokey’s style of singing is different from most country artists, and that’s one thing that separates him from the crowd. He has soul, but he can sing stories and make people believe in them. He also can work the Southern twang if needed, particularly on upbeat tracks like “Get Away,” where he sings that he’s “gonna find me a sunset / and a cold drink on the beach somewhere / get lost in a warm breeze with a sweet thing.” Most of the tracks are about life – living it (“Like That’s a Bad Thing”), looking forward to the future (The debut single and title track “My Best Days Are Ahead of Me”), and learning lessons (“Life on Ya”). One is about faith (“I Still Believe”) and one of my personal favorites is a straight-up love song (“Crazy Not To”).
There are a couple of weak points in the ten-song tracklist, particularly the overtly cheesy, “Jesus Take the Wheel” reminiscent “It’s Only” and the well-meaning but boring “Be Somebody.” Even those songs were somewhat enjoyable and didn’t detract from the overall strength of the album.
Even though there is no songwriting credit to Gokey’s name on the album (Another bummer, as I’m pretty sure he spoke of penning songs himself on his Twitter), his strong voice really speaks through on these songs, but most in particular, the heartwrenching ballad “I Will Not Say Goodbye.” The story of Gokey losing his wife Sophia just before his Idol journey has been told over and over again, but this time, he gets to express his feelings through an original piece of music. It is the perfect closing track.
Hopefully, we will not be saying goodbye to Gokey anytime soon either. My Best Days is a great display of his vocal and musical talents and is proof that there is a place for him in the country music market. A solid, substantial, and reflective debut from an Idol who’s well on his way on a good path.
OVERALL SCORE: 7.5/10
For more information about Danny Gokey and his music, visit Danny’s official website.