Top critical review
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on November 2, 2011
Gavin DeGraw makes it to his fourth album. pretty much covering the same turf as his first three. He's still milking the same blue-eyed soul turf that has made stars out of Jason Mraz currently and Daryl Hall decades before. What differentiates "Sweeter" from his other CD's is that he decided to allow co-writers on-board for the first time. On of them, Ryan Tedder, has been all but certified as the current Midas Touch-man, ala Mick Ronson. Tedder is also the producer of those two songs, emphasizing the piano and making the title song sound tougher than it really is. Andrew Frampton also produces/cowrites a pair, "Run Every Time" and the closer, "Spell It Out."
What strikes me as most interesting is that, on his own, DeGraw comes off as a piano-man worshiping at the alter of Billy Joel and Elton John (especially on "You Know Where I'm At"). Not a bad well to draw from, and when it turns up songs like "Radiation" or "Soldier," worth the effort. On the more annoying and overworked "Candy," not so much. What I'd love to hear more of, though, is the solo DeDraw that sits behind his piano and lets loose with "Spell It Out," which does away with overproduction and just lets the man sing and play. My guess is DeGraw is too slick a salesman to want to be that exposed too often, but it's the highlight of an otherwise light pop album.