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Published: 2004/07/29
by Glenn Alexander

Carencro – Marc Broussard

Island/Def Jam 16103-2

Marc Broussard's got game. Only in his early 20s, he sings with a kind of inscribed assurance that you would expect from seasoned artists with seasoned pipes. The confidence is palpable. He's young, he's bold and he has what it takes. Carencro is a slick, sharp album showcasing a gritty, soulfully determined voice eager for attention. If pure talent is the benchmark for success, this kid would be known throughout the world.

Carencro is R&B/gospel/blues with a glossy, high-powered sheen over the top, unfortunately making Broussard’s bluesy and soulful voice blend into a long-line of talented wiz-kids reaching for the top. Think of John Hiatt, Ray Charles, and Jason Mraz in a room together. From the radio-readied, heart-throbbing "Rocksteady" and "Save Me" to the stirring R&B of "Lonely Night in Georgia," Broussard’s voice is capable of negotiating an astonishing array of notes, growls, and moods. If this album were judged on pure talent alone, then Carencro gets high marks, but songs like "Saturday" and "The Beauty of Who You Are" sound like recycled modern pop, with attitude and ample hooks, just no edge. Two songs, "Home" and "Let Me Leave" manage to come out as authentic and pure, the former being a dark, bluesy, heart-beat of a song, the latter showing Broussard’s ability to pull off pure soul music without a catch.

Instead of getting something unique from a unique talent, we mostly get something predictable from a unique talent. Big Music wins again. It's not so much that his talent is undermined here, just that the setting is so familiar. The lyrics fall prey to predictable laments and wishes, and the music, while energetic and expertly executed, sticks mostly to formula, rarely straying from a comfort zone regardless of how many genres are presented. This album could very well get a whole lot of people moving to this kid's beat. It certainly does what it sets out to do and does so with more style than most pop albums, which says much more about Broussard's talent than for the state of pop music today. That's a whole other story altogether.

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