Casey James was apparently patient while putting together his debut album after wrapping up the ninth season of 'American Idol' back in in 2010. The third-place finisher says he wouldn't trade his spot for first place on the hit show, because he was able to fly under the radar until he was ready. 

Most of the 11 songs on 'Casey James' (in stores March 20) fit the Texas singer like a pair of well-worn Tony Lamas. He's at his best at the extremes, be it massaging his electric guitar on 'Drive' or pouring out his heart on 'Miss Your Fire,' a song he says came from a text message he received during 'Idol.'

"This bed is freezing cold / Never felt so alone / And I can't get you off my mind / There's so much that we left unsaid / So much that I can't forget / I just wanna hold you tonight," James sings during the album's closing track.

For comparison's sake, James is like a less muscular James Otto, as both infuse plenty of soul and blues into their brand of country music. The opening guitar lick of 'Let's Don't Call It a Night' and the screaming intro to 'Workin' on It' set up two very different types of good times.

Often a new artist will languish between less definite emotions, however, and the more mainstream cuts from 'Casey James' are less convincing. 'Crying on a Suitcase' is a dip between 'The Good Life' and the radio single, and 'She's Money' sounds like a mid-90s album cut from a Toby Keith record. It's a decent song, but not one the superstar would cut in 2012.

The soul-country sub-genre is one that no artist has really claimed, but James is clearly comfortable mixing influences. This is an easy album to listen to start to finish, and the singer's beachy, gravely timber make him easy to identify. James used his time wisely, building a project that should provide the foundation for a nice career.