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ToC Critic’s Pick: Drake White, ‘Spark’

Drake White Spark Critic's Pick
Dot Records

If Drake White‘s Spark album could walk and talk, it’d be the most popular kid in school. Twelve feel-good tracks make up the Alabama-raised singer’s debut. There’s room for smiles and hurt, depth, frivolity… You’ll laugh, love and feel better about yourself after an hour spent here.

There’s also a sense that the best is yet to come from one of country music’s most potent vocalists. White is a natural storyteller — a man capable of reaching every single fan without pulling a muscle. Find the strongest songs up front on Spark. “Heartbeat” and “Story” are for fans of scat-stomping singles like “It Feels Good” and “Simple Life” (not included). “Makin’ Me Look Good Again” is a passionate reminder that Chris Stapleton isn’t the only soulful vocalist in town. It’s a pure babymaker that should come with contraception.

It’s difficult to say if the Zac Brown Band‘s influence is rubbing off on White, or if he and Brown’s merry men click so well because they started off with similar interests. Songs like “I Need Real” and “Back to Free” (featuring Brown) would fit on a ZBB album, but White’s recording is just as pure and honest.

With the exception of “Waitin’ on the Whiskey to Work,” the final five songs don’t do as much to distinguish themselves as the first seven. Like that popular kid in school, there’s still room for new experiences to shape his artistry. Spark sets a high bar. It’s an early candidate for best debut album of 2016.

Key Tracks: “Heartbeat,” “Makin’ Me Look Good Again,” “I Need Real”

Did You Know?: White weaves clips of his grandfather’s sermons into his album. The very first voice you hear is the singer’s grandfather.

See the Top 10 Albums of 2016 So Far

Next: ToC's Interview With Drake White

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