When I posted about Marc Broussard’s “Lucky” a couple of months back, I noted my frustration with the Louisiana-born singer/songwriter seeming to jump from genre to genre. His eclecticism seemed less like the joyful abandon associated with an artist like Prince, and more like calculated inroads into as many markets as possible as directed by his record company. The man’s multi-talented, but just because you CAN perform everything doesn’t mean you should.

After being wowed by a sufficient portion of his 2004 major-label debut, Home, Marc has alternately impressed and stymied me. A collection of soul covers entitled S.O.S. (Save Our Souls) was solid, but grabs for the contemporary country and John Mayer markets didn’t have the same effect. So, it was with some trepidation that I purchased (yes, purchased-as opposed to illegally downloaded or obtained a review copy or stream. I bought this bad boy) his latest, self-titled effort.

As it turns out, Marc Broussard is the musician’s best effort (of new material) since his (major-label) debut. There’s NEVER been an issue with the man’s singing. Talk about blue-eyed soul-this guy can sing Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke under the table after just getting out of bed. However, the material is uniformly solid. So solid to the point that there’s no real standout track. Nevertheless as pop music for grown-ups goes, you could do a lot worse than this album, and there are a few songs that I could very easily imagine appearing on “Adult Top 40” radio alongside artists like Train and P!nk (both of whom I enjoy a fair amount-so this ain’t a diss song.)

The sly “Yes Man” is the first (and arguably the best) highlight of the album. A slow, horn-spiked groove accompanies some of the best lyrics Marc has written, and fades out with a nice little horns-and-piano coda. It’s a little New Orleans, a little Toto. Jumping from one 70s rock icon to another, I see that Allmusic.com’s scathing review of this album noted “Emily”‘s interesting melodic similarity to ELO’s “Evil Woman” (and yes, they are right…the verse melody is very similar), but it’s still a well-written, bouncy slice of pop/soul.  “Our Big Mistake” and “Lucky” are pop ballads whose passionate vocals keep them from being generic (shit, the latter song makes me forget about that horrible Jason Mraz song of the same name. For that it should get a medal.) Even though the songs are cut from a basic pop/rock framework, there are enough nice vocal and instrumental touches to keep them from feeling and/or sounding like everything else out there. Hell, “Bleeding Heart” has a little bar-band smoke, a little Bayou swing, and even some MJ percussive-style singing in the verses.

Sure, there are plenty of things that could’ve been done to make this album better. I still think Marc has a really good, balls-out, soul/funk record in him. The guy could also probably make a pretty solid gospel record. However I don’t necessarily know that the man has aspirations to do any of that stuff. So, if he’s going down the Top 40 pop/rock path, I can live with it if the material is as strong as what’s found here.

Grade: B

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