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Jimmy Wayne
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Jimmy Wayne - Click to view!Country music has long been stereotyped as dealing in stories of lost love and hardship. If that stereotype is to be believed, then Jimmy Wayne has found the perfect genre to showcase his talents. His appropriately self-titled debut album is an autobiographical journey through a life filled with tragedy, hardship, pain and disappointment. Abused, often alone and in search of direction, young Jimmy found his way with the help of a special friend who took him in and led him to God. From humble beginnings, this episode proved to be the turning point in the life of this future nominee of People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" list for 2003.

With straightforward lyrics and a simple, heartfelt delivery, Jimmy proves himself to be a talented artist. The first single off this album, "Stay Gone," found its way into the Top 5 of Billboard's Country music chart, and accolades started pouring in from there. Jimmy has received nominations for the CMT's Flame Worthy Breakthrough Video of the Year (for "I Love You This Much") and the Academy of Country Music's Best New Artist awards; his "Stay Gone" video was named CMT's Most Played Video of 2003, and he's been invited to play at the Grand Ole Opry. What more success could a poor kid from North Carolina ask for?

His voice lies somewhere between that of his idol, Alan Jackson, and Garth Brooks, but his songs fit better alongside contemporaries such as Rascal Flatts, Lonestar, and John Michael Montgomery. The story-telling feel of his lyrics demonstrate and convey a depth of emotion that is hard to emulate without having experienced at least some of life's hardships. In fact, upon first blush, it's easy to miss the important messages expressed in Jimmy's work. Country music has long woven threads of Christian morality and values into its stories, and this work follows along with that trend.

In addressing such strongly emotional social topics as child abuse ("Paper Angels") and domestic violence ("The Rabbit"), Jimmy uses wry delivery (he closes "The Rabbit" by asking, "What's Up Now, Doc?") and imagery that calls to mind God-ordained principles like justice and care for the downtrodden. From a lyrical standpoint, the best track on the album is "I Love You This Much," which is Jimmy's second Top 10 hit. Ostensibly a tale of a child's longing for the love of his father and the recognition of his own love, the tables are turned in the end by relating that longing to the longing of Christ for our recognition of His love for us. "You're the One I'm Talking To" assails popular culture for materialism, desensitizing people to violence and devaluing a sexually moral lifestyle.

It would be hasty and incorrect to assume that this album is nothing short of pure and virtuous. Its target audience is not the Christian world, and there is at least one song that seems directed at a secular audience in particular. "Trespassin'" tells of young lovers sneaking onto private property (in more ways than one!) with its chorus: "There was a sign on the fence / but we found our way in / Didn't feel wrong / Spent all night long trespassin'."

It's obvious to even a part-time country music listener such as myself why this album is so popular among fans of the genre. Its song structure and story lines blend right in with much of what is played on country music stations across the country. Jimmy Wayne has both the talent and the look, and it would be no surprise to see him routinely bringing home hardware from ACM and CMT awards shows for the foreseeable future.
- Scott Bush
June 2004
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