Daughtry's latest studio album is "Cage to Rattle." 

Daughtry's latest studio album is "Cage to Rattle."  Credit: RCA Records


"Cage to Rattle"

BOTTOM LINE Finding the right balance between stretching and respecting his sound.

Chris Daughtry likes to take risks.

The rocker went after pop audiences on Daughtry’s last album, “Baptized,” in 2013. He tried his hand at musical theater as Judas in Fox’s “The Passion.” But he is best at the meat-and-potatoes mainstream rock of “Home” and “What About Now,” leading to tours with Bon Jovi and Nickelback.

On Daughtry’s fifth album, “Cage to Rattle” (RCA), the band balances both his impulses and natural inclinations to create its strongest album since its multiplatinum debut following his “American Idol” run.

The first single, “Deep End,” is right down the middle of the pop-rock road, a sweeter version of the singalong rock of Imagine Dragons, while “White Flag” is closer to that band’s more thunderous side. The ballad “As You Are” is folk-tinged and poignant, but also easygoing. “Bad Habits” is the album outlier, a dance-leaning number that could easily pass for the latest Nick Jonas single, where Daughtry declares he just wants to “kick it like my bad, my bad, bad habits,” though the hip-hop elements dropped into “Back in Time” are also an unexpected, pleasant surprise.

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