'Wildflower' a solid debut for Lauren Alaina

'Wildflower' a solid debut for Lauren Alaina

October 24th, 2011 by Clint Cooper, Lisa Denton, Karen Nazor Hill and Susan Pierce in Life Entertainment

Times Free Press staffers who contributed to this season's Idol Chatter column weigh in on Lauren Alaina's new CD.

CLINT COOPER: Lauren Alaina Suddeth's new release, "Wildflower," is a strong first effort for Rossville's "American Idol" runner-up. The best thing about it is that the Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School student's strong, husky, marketable voice shines through.

The songs are suitably appropriate for the 16-year-old, discussing growing up, mamas, love and boys, and they provide evidence for her limitless potential.

They're also story songs, easily creating nostalgic pictures for listeners of a youth being experienced or long gone. I prefer her more uptempo songs, such as her new single, "Georgia Peaches" and "Growing Her Wings," but her ballads are worthy, too.

SUSAN PIERCE: I bought the CD. Even if I didn't like "Wildflower," I'd have bought it simply to support our hometown girl.

But I think listeners will find the CD gives them a much better grasp of Lauren's true vocal ability than they ever saw in each week's two-minute contestant choice on "Idol."

My favorite cut is "The Locket," written by Mallary Hope of Cohutta, Ga., because the ballad is based on the true story of her great-grandparents who lived in Cohutta.

It's the story of an elderly woman who is losing her memory. Hope said when she'd visit the nursing home, she would tell her great-grandmother the stories about her life that the elderly woman had once told her. She gave Mallary the locket she always wore that contained a photo of her husband (Mallary's great-grandfather).

"I wrote that in memory of them. I wrote the song in a half-hour. It just came out because it was truthful, it was their life," said Hope.

Lauren said she chose the song because it reminded her of "The Notebook." Anyone who has lost a parent or grandparent to dementia won't be able to listen to this one dry-eyed.

KAREN NAZOR HILL: It is nice to again hear Lauren's voice. I'm not a fan of country music (even though, like Lauren, I'm a Georgia girl), so I don't listen to country radio and haven't heard her sing since her last performance on "American Idol." I was quickly reminded of what a great voice she has. The songs are tailored to her powerful voice both in music and lyrics.

There are a couple of cuts on the CD that I particularly enjoy. "Georgia Peaches" has a catchy beat and words with which many Southern-born girls can identify. And, agreeing with Susan, "The Locket" is beautifully written and performed. My own late father suffered from Alzheimer's, and the song hit very close to home.

Though Lauren didn't make it to the top on "American Idol," I believe her voice will take her to the top of the charts.

LISA DENTON: Hearing Lauren Alaina sing her first collection of songs reminded me how much grief LeAnn Rimes got back in the day for choosing lyrics beyond her years. Lauren hasn't fallen into that trap. Every cut on her new album seems to fit her age, background or temperament. It's a solid first effort that shows off her wonderful voice.

The Taste of Country website reported Friday that with 69,000 copies sold, "Wildflower" becomes the best-selling by a country artist since 2006, and it's the best-selling digital album by a debut country artist, selling almost 20,000 copies in the first week. Plus, Lauren is the youngest female artist with a Top 5 debut on the Billboard 200 since Rimes in 1996.

My favorite cuts are three sentimental songs: "The Locket"; "The Middle" (about living in the present) and "Eighteen Inches," co-written by Hixson High School grad Kelley Lovelace.