For David Cook, the easy part is over. He won “American Idol”; he survived the grueling “Idol” tour; and he made his inaugural record, “David Cook.” Now comes the difficult part: living up to more hype than any of the preceding “Idol” winners.
His first big-label album is officially released Tuesday, but it seems Cook and “David Cook” are already meeting high expectations.
Across his large and rabid fan base, accolades have been pouring in since an on-line streaming of the album last week. Three of those songs have already been birthed: “Light On,” the album’s first single; “Declaration,” which Cook performed on “Saturday Night Live” recently; and “The Time of My Life,” the winner of the “Idol” songwriting contest.
The 11 other songs (a secret track is embedded in Track 12) follow imilar templates. “Cook” is loaded with melodic arena-rock anthems and ballads with titanium hooks and standard modern-rock riffs. It’s music that recalls bands like Nickelback, the Rev Theory and Cook’s “Idol” alum, Chris Daughtry. Post-grunge dynamics prevail here: mid-volume verses and loud, crashing, panoramic choruses. One song is even called “A Daily AntheM” ; it was written for his older brother, Adam, a cancer patient (thus the typographic effect with the capital letters).
Some of these tracks are geared toward modern-rock radio (“A Kiss on the Neck,” “Mr. Sensitive”); others (“Heroes,” “Come Back To Me”) were written and produced with Top 40, adult-alternative and mainstream-rock radio in mind. At least one, “Bar-ba-sol,” sounds like an offering to heavy-rock/metal stations that mix their Metallica with their Nickelback -- like Kansas City’s the Rock (98.9 FM). But I’ll be surprised if they played anything off this. (Blame the “Idol” factor).
Instead, Cook and his label have made a record that will be marketed to an audience that is predominantly female and includes a lot of fans 30 and older. There is plenty for them to like, especially for anyone who’s a fan of Bon Jovi or Journey, two of Cook’s lyrical touchstones. A couple of songs are tender, confessionals – the musical equivalent of chick flicks. One of those, the orchestral “Permanent,” bears a resemblance to Journey’s “Faithfully.”
If that makes you wince, keep in mind that’s the intent here. Producer Rob Cavallo has crafted slick, dynamic, major-league album designed to hang around for a while. None of the production techniques will fall out of fashion over the next two years, which ought to be the shelf life of this record. There are at least six singles on “Cook,” not counting “The Time of My Life.” If commercial radio is part of your daily life, be prepared to start hearing these songs soon and often. When you do, remember it’s the sound of a local boy making it really big.
| Timothy Finn, The Star