We don't really need any more callow youths mewling into microphones about the angst of romance. But if we must have them, they should be more like 12-year-old Billy Gilman, an appealing, sweet-voiced singer whose primary gimmick, besides wearing leather pants onstage, is talent.
Billy grew up in Hope Valley, R.I., where he weaned himself on the records of George Jones, Eddy Arnold, Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette. Now a protégé of Asleep at the Wheel leader Ray Benson—who first heard him on a tape sent by a friend—Billy was impressive enough that his debut was produced by a team of Nashville veterans. Still, such tunes as "What's Forever For" and " 'Til I Can Make It on My Own" seem somewhat beyond the limits of a 4'7" 12-year-old's experience, even in these precocious times. Billy works better when he sounds like himself: a starstruck boy whose greatest ambition is to have his own tour bus, well-equipped with video games.
Bottom Line: New boy on Nashville's backstreet is in sync