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by Marie Braden

Shinedown Leave A Whisper
Label: Atlantic
Fly From The Inside
Left Out 
Lost In The Crowd
No More Love
Better Version
Burning Bright
In Memory
All I Ever Wanted 
Stranger Inside
Crying Out 
Simple Man
Burning Bright 
Listen to samples and Purchase this CD online


Since it's virtually impossible to escape the Hetfield-esque "45" on rock radio these days, let me hasten to assure you that the debut CD from Jacksonville, Florida's Shinedown has far more to offer than just the dark balladry of their first single.

"Fly from the Inside" has a twinkly guitar motif that is reminiscent of the Cure while still providing angry, crunching vocals that will appeal to fans of Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots who like just a bit more melody in their mix. "Left Out" is a crowd-pleaser with the anthemic force of the best summer songs, and would make a great second single. Obligatory acousti-ballad "Lost in the Crowd" breaks no new ground, but has an enchanting sway to it that will make it the soundtrack to many a heartbreak.

"No More Love" is a subtle rocker in the Saliva vein, but is quickly outshone by the catchy "Better Version" and its wry lyrics. Shinedown's songs are all intensely personal, and "Burning Bright" manages to pack a powerful punch with its simple desolation. "In Memory" is another of these jaded songs, and sounds like a cry from the heart.

"All I Ever Wanted" is slightly schizophrenic in approach, but never sinks into being just a filler track. "Stranger Inside" would fit beautifully on a mix CD next to Alanis Morrisette's "You Oughta Know", as the two are similar thematically, while the watery bass line of Lacerated seems married to Nirvana's "Come As You Are".

Lyrically, Shinedown takes as their primary subject the breakdown of relationships, and the marriage of such angry words with such hummable melodies creates a sound that unashamedly displays its influences in the little touches, such as the Queensryche feel of some passages in  "Crying Out". Of course, it's impossible to discuss this CD without touching on the ubiquitous "45", which, while evoking the infamous death of Kurt Cobain, still manages to become a raging evocation of universal pain.

While the overall feel of this album is instantly familiar, every song has something to it that is just a little bit unexpected. For a debut album to toss in as many experimental moments as this one does is a clever strategy, and it will be interesting to watch Shinedown develop as performers. This is not a cheerful album, but one that will appeal to people who are really beyond the sugary confection of American Idol and its ilk.

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