Review: Daughtry’s “Leave This Town”

The last two albums I’ve purchased have been by Chris Daughtry. I’m not sure if that makes me a fan. I pre-ordered “Leave This Town,” his second album, when I found it available on iTunes. It was released on Tuesday, July 14th and I’m writing this review on the evening of the 15th, having listened to the album three times.

My first impression: definitely Daughtry.

Let me give you some background first. I hadn’t connected that “Home,” “Over You,” “Feels Like Tonight” and “It’s Not Over” were all the same artist (let alone on the same album) until I heard “What About Now” and looked it up. It was one of those “Oh!” moments. The first Daughtry album (Daughtry) is chock-full of hits and I knew it would be hard to top.

Has “Leave This Town” managed to top it? I’m not sure. At the moment, I’m giving it a provisional “Let’s see.” Primarily because after listening three times, I’ve found most of the songs grew on me with each listening.

There’s the distinctive Daughtry sound with the growling guitars and the deep rock voices, the anger and the failed-love type song. You expected that, but I’m going to say those (including “You Don’t Belong” and “What I Meant To Say”) are some of the weakest songs on the album in terms of lyric complexity and the ability to hold interest.

What I’ve found is that in this album, he branches out and takes chances with songs like “Tennessee Line” and “Call Your Name” which have a different, pensive, yearning feel. “Open Up Your Eyes” has complex, sad lyrics that aren’t easily pigeonholed.

“Traffic Light” is a powerful song that I want to listen to through headphones and really get a sense of the lyrics. I already like it a lot; I want to know more about what he’s talking about.

Overall, I find this album has a better mix of song types than the first, but the irony is that this may make it less of a commercial success. I can’t easily pick out which songs will become “hits.” “Traffic Light” may well get airtime. “No Surprise,” which is already on the radio, is one of the weaker songs on the album and doesn’t cater to Daughtry’s vocal strengths, but is easily pigeonholed, and I can see why it was released first. But his best songs on this album (“Call Your Name,” “Tennessee Line” and “Open Up Your Eyes”) aren’t going to be the ear-catchers that make up most radio listening.

If you enjoyed Daughtry’s first album, or the songs that made it to the air the first time, I would recommend Leave This Town. I’m enjoying it and I’m sure that the more I listen, the more I’ll find to enjoy.