The first thing that stands out about Scotty McCreery's debut country single has nothing to do with the song itself. The 'American Idol' live soundstage does this boy no justice, as the studio version of 'I Love You This Big' proves the 17-year-old finalist is far more mature than audiences have given him credit for.

The opening lyrics are tender and genuine. McCreery sings, 'I know I'm still young / But I know how I feel / I might not have too much experience / But I know when love is real." Little is known about the Garner, N.C. singer's love life, but it's safe to say he's opened his heart up before, if only in that innocent way high schoolers have perfected.

The biggest relief is that the song doesn't sound like one Josh Turner would cut. McCreery puts his stamp on the chorus, singing, "I love you this big / Eyes have never seen this big / No one's ever dreamed this big / And I'll spend the rest of my life / Explaining what words cannot describe, but I'll try / I love you this big." Sure, it's a little goofy, but he's a little goofy. It's why America has fallen in love with him.

A soft steel guitar wraps McCreery's vocals like a warm blanket, giving this tender ballad depth and credibility. He goes for the high notes when it's time, but wisely stays clear of that deep country growl that gave Jennifer Lopez so many goosebumps. There will be plenty of time for that later.

"I'll love you to the moon and back / I love you all the time / Deeper than the ocean / And higher than the pines." McCreery coasts through these more familiar lyrics until bridging the chorus one final time. 'I Love You This Big' leaves room for growth, but offers plenty to get "Scotty's Hotties" excited.

4 Stars

Listen to Scotty McCreery's 'I Love You This Big'

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