Measure of a Man

Who would have thought in 1981 that the influence of soft-rock kings Chicago would still be felt in 2003? In interviews, twenty-four-year-old Clay Aiken cites Chicago singer Peter Cetera as a vocal idol, and the painstakingly measured ballads collected on his debut, Measure of a Man, make that clear. For everything wrong with Aiken — his unremarkable phrasing and delivery, his old-man self-importance in a young man's body — he's adept at this school of middle-of-the-road bombast. He gets perhaps a bit too wistful on "Shine," which borrows liberally from the Chicago standard "Hard to Say I'm Sorry," but when one's whole career is a homage, it's hard to know when the line has been crossed.

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