Picks and Pans Review: Jimmy Wayne

updated 09/01/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/01/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Jimmy Wayne (Dream Works)

This newcomer's true-life tale is the stuff that gritty country songs are made of. Growing up in North Carolina, he had an abusive stepfather, worked to earn money for his mother while she was in prison, and lived in an abandoned trailer after running away from a group home. Unfortunately, on his first disc, Wayne's musical craft and thin, wan voice aren't nearly as compelling as his personal story, which he tells ardently but pedantically. "The Rabbit," for instance, is a revenge song that imagines what might happen if a rabbit turned the tables on his hunter: "It ain't gonna be fun when the rabbit gets the gun." On the melodramatic "Blue and Brown," Wayne tells of meeting up with an incarcerated former foster brother while working as a prison guard. Not that all of Wayne's songs are dark and depressing. On the spiritually uplifting "Paper Angels," he sings, "No matter where you are right now/ Remember, God's right there." Here's hoping that next time Wayne's music will be as inspiring as his press bio.

BOTTOM LINE: Bypass Wayne's world

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