Jimmy Wayne, "Sara Smile" (Valory)
An album of emotionally layered songs about love sustained and sometimes lost, "Sara Smile" should establish Jimmy Wayne as Nashville's most sensitive male vocalist _ both in his well-chosen material and in his elegant, soulful delivery.
The album also should further the most significant comeback in country music in recent years. The North Carolina native earned his first No.1 hit with the title song of his 2008 album, "Do You Believe Me Now." It came four years after Wayne's only Top 10 hit, but his new album, "Sara Smile," proves he's making the best of his new chance.
As a testament to his star potential, Wayne links up with three of Nashville's hottest producers _ a common strategy in pop music, but unusual in Nashville, where artists almost always work with one producer per project. Collaborating with Mark Bright (Carrie Underwood), Nathan Chapman (Taylor Swift) and Dann Huff (Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban), Wayne achieves a consistent quality through "Sara Smile," yet also manages to make it blend more seamlessly than might be expected.
Highlights are many: Wayne's vocal showcase on the title song, a cover of the Hall & Oates classic; the effervescent Keith Urban co-write, "Things I Believe," about the spiritual power of devoted love; and Wayne's solo-written "I'll Never Leave You," about how flashes of frustration need not derail a good relationship.
CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: "Just Knowing You Love Me" celebrates how a faithful relationship can bring a bounce to your step _ and the strength to stride past life's bumps.