The ‘Best Days’ of Danny Gokey show promise in a solid debut

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.

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7 thoughts on “The ‘Best Days’ of Danny Gokey show promise in a solid debut

  1. Pingback: Blog ‘baby you’ll be famous’: The ‘Best Days’ of Danny Gokey show promise in a solid debut | Danny Gokey American Idol - Danny Gokey Fan Site - video, news, photos, pictures, forum, gallery, facebook, myspace

  2. Brandon

    Hmmm…I kind of agree with you about “It’s Only.” It’s still a good song, just not my favorite on the album. I’m glad that his label withdrew it as his lead single and went with “My Best Days Are Ahead Of Me.” But I thoroughly enjoy “Be Somebody,” though. It’s one of my top tracks on the album, along with “My Best Days…,” “Get Away,” “Like That’s A Bad Thing,” and “I Will Not Say Goodbye.” The first time I heard Danny sing “Be Somebody” was in a YouTube video back in January and not even ten seconds in, I found myself bobbing my head to the beat and thinking, “this is going to be one amazing album.”

    I agree, though, that the album is overall very strong. I listen to it every morning–it’s a great way to get your day started on a positive note. It’s been a very long time since I’ve felt inspired by music…and this album managed to do that. Kudos to Danny and everyone else who worked on the album.

    As far as his lack of songwriting credits, I believe Danny said in a recent interview that he wasn’t able to write songs for the album because the label wanted the album out quickly. I can live with the fact that he didn’t write any of the songs on the album, because each of them exudes passion and Danny sings the songs as if he actually did write them. He believes every single lyric.

    I think Danny is well on his way to becoming a bona fide music superstar…he’s already sold 100,000 copies sold in just three weeks!

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    1. Karen

      I’m glad that his label withdrew it as his lead single and went with “My Best Days Are Ahead Of Me.”

      As was I! Not that “It’s Only” is a bad song, but I don’t think it was strong enough for a debut single. “My Best Days Are Ahead of Me” is much more mainstream-sounding and I like that it’s upbeat, yet has that inspirational message that Danny is very capable of sending out in his music and beyond.

      Didn’t know that about the interview – thank you for bringing that to me. I agree, his singing and passion are where his strengths lie. I’m sure in the future when he’s under less pressure (Hopefully), we’ll be able to see and hear some of his own works. That’d be nice. But as long as he keeps singing his heart out, that’s all that matters.

      Thank you very much for your comment, Brandon! Love your insight.

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  3. marilyn

    Karen, another insightful piece. I like it. You write very well, as your work flows. However, what to you is cheesy, to me, spoke volumes of who Danny is and what is important in his life. He’s all about giving and helping people to get ahead and live a good life. The first time I heard, “It’s Only,” I cried big tears because I so loved his voice and his sentiments of who he is as a person and an artist.

    “Be Somebody” will speak to kids who have to deal with gangs in their daily lives. Foreign to me, but not to a lot of kids who wonder if they should join to be somebody. Even though it’s my least favorite, it comes from a place he knows about. So it is him, I think.

    Karen go good meeting you and again thank you for taking my picture. You are a great gal.

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    1. Karen

      I thought “Be Somebody” had a great message and I thought you nailed it in the bud as to who it’d particularly inspire. I was listening to it earlier and I think the reason why I find it “boring” is because while the lyrics are great and his voice sounds great, the singing tends to overshadow the melody. So I guess I don’t like it as much as others from that standpoint. Like I said though, the entire album is great.

      Thank you very much, Marilyn! And I’m glad I got to be the one to get the pictures of you and Danny together. 🙂

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  4. Jean

    I do love Its Only; it showcases his vocals and yeah, very sentimental (cheesy to some) but it rings true; and Danny is all about charity.
    I have this funny feeling he really wanted it for the single because it is who he is and the label humored him until the radio peeps had a listen to both songs at the CMAs.
    Glad they switched it; My Best Days Are Ahead truly is much radio friendlier.
    Love the whole album! If I had to pick a least favorite track it would be Be Somebody also; I like it, but it reminds me of Steve Winwood, who I was not a fan of. If Danny really wanted a R&B song on there, could have picked a stronger one. But I know people who love it as their favorite.
    Mark of a great album; everyone has different favorites.
    Thanks for the thoughtful review.

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    1. Karen

      I agree about the “It’s Only” / “My Best Days” switcheroo. “It’s Only” is definitely reflective of what Danny wants to do with his music, but so is “My Best Days.” I’m glad they went with the more upbeat and radio-friendly but still inspirational track.

      Thanks for the compliments and thanks for reading!

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