Might "American Idol's" slide into irrelevance be a boon for its talent? That's one takeaway to be drawn from the surprisingly strong debut by Candice Glover, who last year won the televised singing competition amid historically low ratings.
A big-voiced soul belter, Glover ended a lengthy stretch of victories by white-guy guitar strummers, including Lee DeWyze and Phillip Phillips — reason enough to celebrate her win. But she's also made a better record than the last few "Idol" champs, one that doesn't sound like its quirks have been ironed out in an attempt to satisfy the show's once-enormous audience.
There are signs of individual life here: the palpable regret in "Damn," about falling in love "with someone else's man"; the old-fashioned sass suffusing "In the Middle"; the tension between desire and virtue in "Passenger," with a characteristically woozy beat by producer Mike Will Made It. And, reprised from the show, there is Glover's powerful rendition of the Cure's "Lovesong," which may go down as the final must-see "Idol" performance. TV's loss is music's gain.
Two and a half stars
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