Daniel earns some respect just for including, on his debut album, a version of “Love Me,” the Lieber-Stoller ballad that is one of those tunes Elvis Presley owned cold.
But the Nebraska-Colorado-raised Daniel, 30, does more than tempt invidious comparison. Not only is his “Love Me” a masterpiece of apparently soon-to-be-unrequited affection, Daniel surrounds that track with nine exemplary modern country songs.
Most of them concern winding down from romance—”I Ain’t the One,” “Still Got a Crush on You”—and Daniel laments in a voice that combines the mellow of Randy Travis with the despair of George Jones. When he sings the opening lines of Don White’s “Across the Room to You”—”I’ve been to Texas/I’ve been to Spain”—and then compares the geographical distances traveled to the emotional gap between himself and the aspiring Ms. Ex, it brings an empathetic tear to your eye. (PolyGram)