What If We
You can place Brandon Heath squarely in the tradition of the sensitive male singer/songwriter. His slightly callow but winning vocals and lyric confessions of emotional need bring to mind everyone from Jackson Browne to Mat Kearney and Greg Laswell. His sophomore album What If We applies his firmly Christian perspective to themes both exalted and ordinary. Heath doesn’t mind admitting his fears and weaknesses — “Wait and See” looks back over his semi-misspent youth, while “When I’m Alone” describes an acute attack of alienation. On tracks like the soulful “Fight Another Day” and the bouncy “Sore Eyes,” he turns around and offers words of encouragement to others. More than anything, Heath is concerned with failures of communication, whether between lovers (“Listen Up”) or strangers (“Give Me Your Eyes”). Reaching higher, he delivers an uncommonly poetic praise song with “No Not One.” His light, flexible sound relies on acoustic guitars and laid-back beats (dressed up with strings here and there) to put his message across. What If We may be a tad sweet in spots but ultimately redeems itself through its solid craft and empathetic perspective. Heath’s kind of sensitivity feels right.