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'Idol' Lee DeWyze plays to strengths in debut

Album cover titled

Album cover titled "Live It Up" by Lee DeWyze.

Yeah, Lee DeWyze's post-"American Idol" single and tour were greeted with a collective cultural yawn and the reigning "Idol" looked destined for the Taylor Hicks House of Low-Level Stardom.

But DeWyze is a scrapper and "Live It Up" (RCA) shows it. He crafted the best post-"Idol" debut since Carrie Underwood by playing to his strengths and knowing where he could fit into the pop landscape. The grand, piano-driven "Brooklyn Bridge" and catchy "Earth Stood Still" cast him as an earnest John Mayer. The lovely ballad "Beautiful Like You" is like a fired-up version of The Fray. The title track is part laid-back Jack Johnson, part playful Jason Mraz.

His only misstep turns out to be the first single, "Sweet Serendipity" - an upbeat but bland cousin to Kris Allen/The Script's overstuffed "Live Like We're Dying" that feels more like a record label ploy than an artistic choice. They'd be better off letting Lee be Lee.



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