Off to Join the World

Given that he's still a teenager himself, when singer/songwriter Blaine Larsen sings of high school, he has an insider's perspective. But don't think for one second that this is teen pop country: This

Given that he's still a teenager himself, when singer/songwriter Blaine Larsen sings of high school, he has an insider's perspective. But don't think for one second that this is teen pop country: This is trad country gold. Larsen has a sturdy baritone that evokes classic singers like George Strait on such strong cuts as "The Best Man" and the romantic ballad "Teaching Me How to Love You." And his view of youth's caste system on the well-drawn "In My High School" is strikingly insightful. Larsen conjures a laid-back, confident persona on "I've Been in Mexico" and turns intimate on the bluesy "The Man He'll Never Be." No one-trick pony, "Yessireebob" is a spritely Texas shuffle, and Shawn Camp's killer title track finally finds the home it deserves here. But the showstopper, leadoff single "How Do You Get That Lonely," is a keenly observant take on teen suicide that asks all the right questions. Say hello to a serious talent.—RW