June 04, 2001 12:00 PM

Billy Gilman (Epic Nashville)

Many recording artists need a skillful producer, but that goes double for a sprout like Gilman, who needs to team up with someone in possession of a valid driver’s license to get from place to place. At 13, Gilman lacks the moves of the young Michael Jackson or the pipes of LeAnn Rimes, so he must rely on a low-key, ordinary-boy charm. But on this album it is successfully exploited only on “The Woman in My Life,” an affecting tune about a boy’s devotion to his mother. Even that track cries out for the presence of a bigger voice to play the mom—Emmylou Harris, say. On the rest of the album Gilman plays macho, trying with varying success to put over such romance-oriented tunes as “She’s My Girl,” “Our First Kiss” and “Almost Love.” But he’s not convincing at all on such adult angst trips as “My Time on Earth” and “Some Things I Know.”

Bottom Line: Dare to act your age

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