Scotty McCreery, "See You Tonight" (19/Mercury Nashville)
The first "American Idol" victor born in the 1990s, Scotty McCreery turned 20 the week before releasing "See You Tonight," his follow-up to 2011's platinum debut, "Clear As Day." The former church choir boy quickly establishes how much he has matured, opening his album with a rocking party tune, "Now," and an urgent late-night booty call to his girlfriend on the title cut.
McCreery co-wrote those two songs and three others -- his first cuts as a songwriter, another sign of his artistic maturation. His growth also comes across in the subtle inflections he brings to "Feel Good Summer Song," a heartbreaker that requires some complexity in its vocal delivery and in the blend of pain and desire that the lyrics require.
At this point, the North Carolina native's baritone no longer sounds like a novelty, and he doesn't push the low tones as persistently. Sounding more relaxed, McCreery combines the traditional aspects of heroes Josh Turner and Randy Travis with contemporary touches brought in by producer Frank Rogers (Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker). The result shows McCreery moving into a style of his own that should win him fans beyond the "Idol" fan base.