June 28, 2004 12:00 PM

Josh Gracin

Although he finished fourth on American Idol last year, Josh Gracin, 23, is at best a marginally competent country singer. Right now there are surely dozens better, more experienced vocalists performing in Nashville without a recording contract. And while he has a veteran producer in Marty Williams (Rascal Flatts, Faith Hill, Reba McEntire) for his self-titled freshman album, Gracin fails to capitalize on his 15 minutes of TV notoriety with this amateurish collection. The Westland, Mich., native, who will remain on active duty in the Marines through September, stays tolerably close to the right key and has a passable sense of rhythm. And Williams has provided him with a strong set of backup musicians who help lend a modicum of interest to even Gracin’s most banal tunes, such as the insipid “I Want to Live” and the treacly “One Little Soldier.” Still, Gracin won’t make anyone forget Johnny Cash or Waylon Jennings. He may still have a following from Idol, but we’ll see how far the patriotic vote gets him in the real world.

COUNTRY

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