The late Waylon Jennings once called Jack Ingram "an incredible talent." Now fans everywhere have learned what Jennings knew, as Ingram has transformed from a regional superstar around his native Texas into a full-fledged national phenomenon.
Nothing describes the incandescent moment when Jack Ingram's "incredible talent" becomes incredible success quite as well as the title of his new studio album, This Is It.
Like Keith Urban, Texan Jack Ingram flaunts a studied blond scruffiness that initially telegraphs he might rely more on sex appeal than music. But also like the Australian guitarzan, Ingram knows how to deliver the goods. His average-guy voice positions him more on the rocking side of country, and proves a perfect vehicle for the kickoff song, Radney Foster and Gordie Sampson's rootsy "Measure of a Man," which dovetails a rebel Steve Earle stance with a declaration of the changing power of love. The formulaic pop of "Wherever You Are," Ingram's #1 single--reprised like the bubblegummy "Love You" from an earlier album--is standard-issue Nashville, as is "featuring" Sheryl Crow on "Hold On," but then burying her vocals in the mix. But Ingram makes up for such transgressions with his deliciously lubricated cover of Hinder's "Lips of an Angel" and with his own finely-drawn songs of family (the folkish "Ava Adele") and the Lone Star landscape that produced him ("Great Divide"). The question is whether Ingram wants to be a star or an artist. His label, Big Machine, is trying to let him be both. But that can only last so long. --Alanna Nash