MCA newcomer Shannon Lawson impresses out of the gate, powered by notable musicianship and sturdy vocals and songwriting chops.

MCA newcomer Shannon Lawson impresses out of the gate, powered by notable musicianship and sturdy vocals and songwriting chops. Lawson's vigorous vocal effort saves otherwise unremarkable fare like "This Old Heart" and "Slow Down Sunrise." Far better is the manic, the Who-meets-Flatt & Scruggs title cut, the well-written and powerfully performed (if somewhat over-produced) "Goodbye on a Bad Day," the harmonious, lazy-afternoon vibe of "Dream Your Way to Me," and the wailing "Bad, Bad, Bad." Sometimes too busy, Mark Wright's production is on the mark with the soulful "Superstar," and the sultry, synth-hued "Where Would I Go" surely sounds more like Foreigner than any country song ever, not necessarily a bad thing in this case. Elsewhere, "Who's Your Daddy" is an impressive, Hammond-fueled boogie, and "Are You Happy Now" is Nashville blue-eyed soul. Shannon also wins major points for owning enough cajones to tackle Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On," complete with mandolin and banjo, and damn if he doesn't pull it off with jazzy flair and considerable style.—RW