{mosimage}For those of you who are too hip or too cool to admit that you’ve seen a season —  or even one episode of  American Idol — let me introduce you to Bo Bice.
    Bice was a standout in season four of the show. He was such a standout that on the grand finale show, Bice was in a sing-off with country megastar Carrie Underwood. While many Americans sat in their living rooms cheering him on, he was silently praying not to win. That fact, in itself, defines who Bo Bice is.
    Bice, an unapologetic southern rocker raised in Alabama, didn’t quite fit the mold of the pop-centric Idol. While other singers came out singing Top 40, Bice broke out rock songs —  real rock. He was, in fact, the first proclaimed “rocker” on the show. Week after week he rocked the audience — and while they (the audience got it), the producers didn’t. So, it was their bad when they went to produce Bice’s first album, The Real Thing, and they tried to put Bice into a mold — a packaged, moussed-hair mold. But he broke that mold, leaving RCA, establishing his own record company and making his own record. See the Light is the fruit of that effort.
    See the Light, available via download and at Wal-Mart stores exclusively, is a solid, bluesy, southern rock album that speaks of whiskey, women and sin. It also speaks of love, salvation and fun. The album is a compilation of some of Bice’s older songs — songs he says he wrote a decade ago, and songs he wrote while recovering from several surgeries which sidelined him in the months following his Idol triumph. The album is one part Hank, two parts Skynyrd and the rest is all Bo.
    The album’s first release, “Witness,” has had considerable air play and has hit the VH1 number one video spot, but it’s not my favorite song on the album. I think my problem with “Witness” is that it is in your face, southern rock and the first time I heard it was at 4 a.m. — my brain wasn’t prepared for the overload. But I’m not saying it’s a bad song. It’s just not a 4 a.m. song. It’s more of a 11 p.m., Friday night at the bar song.
    “Take the Country Outta Me” is Bice’s tribute to the southern rockers he grew up listening to. It is also his response to folks who thought he should have taken the fast road to pop success, instead of the winding country road to his own success. In the song he pays homage to Skynyrd, Hank and the Marshall Tucker band — all folks he has recently had the chance to work with.
    “I’m Gone” is one of my favorite tracks on the album because you actually get to hear Bice’s voice without its growl. It’s a slower song — but not that slow. I wouldn’t call it a ballad, but it’s not a rocker either.
“Sinner in a Sin” is one of Bice’s favorite songs and is somewhat biographical in nature. He noted that it gives him cause for reflection — and it does the same to his listeners. We’ve all been there, done that and wished we hadn’t — even when we’re doing it again.
    See The Light does what all of the PR people and studio flunkies at RCA could never do for Bice. It defines him as a musician. What the record execs failed to see is that Bice doesn’t have the angst of Nirvana, or the bite of Metallica. What he is, is straight up country rock — and it’s great that he can finally let his light shine.
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