MGF Reviews Curtain Call, Vol. 2: New Songs from Past American Idol Finalists

Curtain Call: New Songs from Past American Idol Finalists – Vol. 2
Artists’ Addiction Records (3/25/08)
Pop

Unless you want to intentionally hear a sampler of past American Idol runners-up, then Curtain Call Volume 2 probably won’t be for you. This rather slapdash and hit-or-miss compilation features former Idol hopefuls Alaina Alexander, Rudy Cardenas, Sarah Mather and Gedeon L. McKinney. If you were hoping for Mandisa, perhaps, then you’ll be disappointed, as she’s mysteriously nowhere to be found.

Alexander is working on her debut album with ├╝ber-producer Josh Abraham (Pink, Michelle Branch, Linkin Park, Orgy, Velvet Revolver), and it shows, as the contemporary, radio-friendly sound exudes on the easygoing pop of “How I Feel” and edgier pop-rock of “Bad Name”. Not bad, I guess, but it’s also nothing that we haven’t heard before.

Rudy Cardenas’ tracks are for the most part boring and unoriginal, with a decidedly contemporary pop sound on “Turnaround”, which pretty much comes off as contrived. It’s supposed to be inspiring, I guess, but it sounds like everything else out there right now. “Distracted” was pop-rock-friendly and shows his vocal prowess nicely, but again, it comes off is pretty cookie-cutter and probably won’t hold the listener’s attention. His voice isn’t horrible, per se, but these three songs of his are so generic that any true potential that Cardenas might have ultimately falls by the wayside.

Sarah Mather, on the other hand, is the standout artist of the album, with some great R&B/pop vocals on “I Can’t Explain”, and based on the emotion in her vocals, she’d probably be a good person to see live. She busts out some classic rock and blues in “Fly”, where her vocals really shine, while “Can’t Stop The Rain” has country/pop feel, somewhat reminiscent of Faith Hill. This genre would probably be her most successful career path, unless she decides to try and do all of the above. As previously mentioned, out of all the artists on this compilation, she is the one to watch, and most certainly has the most crossover potential.

Gedeon L. McKinney has been keeping busy since the fifth season, as he’s continued to pursue his musical career while also nabbing small acting roles here and there. “Maybe When I See Your Face”, while not bad as an R&B/pop track, would be much better-suited for a Broadway stage instead. “When He Cries”, again, is so dramatic that it belongs in a musical, and by the time I got to “You Don’t Love Me No More” my heart was broken, not because the song being particularly moving or bad, as it were, but rather on account of McKinney having an obvious gift, though it’s painfully obvious that he should be pursuing a career in musicals instead of squandering his talent on disposable pop tunes.

The second installment in the Curtain Call series (which, by the way, is neither released nor endorsed by American Idol or any of its affiliates) has its ups and downs, but as a whole it pretty much falls short of anything worth your bother, save for the Sarah Mather tracks. She’s probably got an album coming out sometime soon, but in the mean time you’d be well-advised to nab her tracks on iTunes as the rest of the album is completely forgettable.

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