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Rookie of the Year - The Most Beautiful Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8.25
Musicianship 8.25
Lyrics 7.5
Production 9
Creativity 8
Lasting Value 8.75
Reviewer Tilt 8.5
Final Verdict: 83%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.44
Musicianship 7.44
Lyrics 7.38
Production 8.31
Creativity 7.63
Lasting Value 7.19
Reviewer Tilt 7.25
Average: 77%
Inside AP.net

Rookie of the Year - The Most Beautiful

Reviewed by: Gregory Robson (06/03/10)
Rookie of the Year - The Most Beautiful
Record Label: Future Destination Records
Release Date: June 8, 2010


To survive in this fickle and cutthroat business, one needs stamina and persistence, an indefatigable will that never wavers or cowers. Fayetteville, NC's Ryan Dunson is one such example. Since forming the one-man solo project Rookie of the Year in 2002, he has charted on Billboard, seen a record deal go sour, watched as band members exited and perhaps worst of all, felt the backlash from fans during a public debate with an ex-bandmate. In the end, he's led by his inner will: to remain true to himself and his craft, focusing on his music above all else.

A self-described taciturn control freak, Dunson has just crafted his fifth album, an eight song effort, that is arguably his best collection to date. Working alongside Andrew Goldstein of the Friday Night Boys, Relient K's Matthiew Thiessen, Brett Detar of the Juliana Theory and MTV The Real World's Erika Lauren, The Most Beautiful is a confident and comfortable step forward and cements Dunson as one of the Southeast's most engaging songwriters.

Produced by studio whiz Matt Malpass, the disc opens with the ambient opening track, "Run Away," featuring muffled vocals and a sweeping chorus. A soaring organ and a simple refrain, "Run away with me, like your favorite movie," start the disc positively.. For all its winning moments, Dunson's vocal restraint leaves a bit to be desired and nothing about "Run Aways," sets fire to the ground. In an attempt to atone for this, the dance-inspired, "Frustrated (Hurricane)," follows and it's a mild step forward. The song also marks the first of two songs co-written with Goldstein. Though its aided by a sun-drenched chorus and crystalline verses, the entire effort feels forced, safe and desperate. To put it simply, Dunson is far better than this and he knows it. At this point in his career, he should be able to pen two heartstoppers in a row without hesitation. That he doesn't is worth noting, but not wort belaboring.

What is worth noting is how effortless the rest of it is. The thesis of The Most Beautiful is exodus, solace and buoyancy, three traits Dunson has always worn on his sleeve. But whereas many singers would allow these songs to falter and sound run of the mill, he seems to tap into something substantial. Call it fate, charm, good luck or just skill, he has an uncanny ability to illustrate emotional sincerity and heartfelt fragility unlike very few of his peers. Like fellow North Carolinian Nicholas Sparks, he knows how to describe heartbreak and the complicated webs of romance to a T.

Wading in mid-tempo territory not unlike OneRepublic and Rob Thomas, the Most Beautiful is anchored by the nocturnal "Stars Fade Blue," and the pleading "Don't Tear Me Apart." Album closer "Take These Words," features Lauren's vocals and her contributions add a layer of depth and intimacy that hasn't really been felt on a Rookie disc since The Goodnight Moon. With the exception of the throwaway "Buzzing Around," the rest of The Most Beautiful is absolutely gorgeous. Fall under the spell of the plaintive piano and emotive crooning of "Turn the Page (100 Miles)" and a few seconds later listen to him channel Aaron Marsh on the lilting New Order cover "Bizarre Love Triangle." No matter how you break it down, these songs are always going to win the hearts of those of us that aren't afraid to wade in the waters of maudlin sentimentality.

Fragile? Overwrought? Tender? Sure. But since when exactly has that been a bad thing? Dunson knows who he is as an artist and never compromises that vision. That in and of itself is worth far more than any major label contract or Billboard placement. Sure some of it might be banal, derivative and mildly boring but when it's all said and done the music world will be grateful that Rookie of the Year existed and The Most Beautiful is proof of that.

Track Listing 1. Run Away
2. Frustrated (Hurricane)
3. Turn the Page (100 Miles)
4. Bizarre Love Triangle
5. Don't Tear Me Apart
6. Spinning Around
7. Stars Fade Blue
8. Take These Words


Recommended If You Like OneRepublic, Goo Goo Dolls, Rob Thomas, The Fray


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Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 52
01:50 PM on 06/03/10
#2
aradiantsunrise
i get what i want
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Great review. Rookie of the Year is a favorite of mine and this just has me that much more excited to hear this album.
02:37 PM on 06/03/10
#3
cwhit412
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Great review. Rookie of the Year is a favorite of mine and this just has me that much more excited to hear this album.
Loving the avatar, that album artwork is amazing.

I finally took a listen to The Goodnight Moon, after loving the last EP since it came out. I'm starting to get even more excited about this than I was.
02:42 PM on 06/03/10
#4
HometownHero
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Stabbing Westward cover? You serious? Try, New Order. And the only reason I am still interested in this is because of Malpass behind the boards
02:43 PM on 06/03/10
#5
LastDeclaration
mmm tasty
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"indefatigable"?
03:39 PM on 06/03/10
#6
inthemidst
Grace and Peace
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Loving the avatar, that album artwork is amazing.

I finally took a listen to The Goodnight Moon, after loving the last EP since it came out. I'm starting to get even more excited about this than I was.
Ah, The Goodnight Moon is an absolute masterpiece! Unfortunately, anything else he's released is sadly forgettable. Although, Greg's review definitely makes me want to pick this up. I've always enjoyed Dunson's emotionally-witty songwriting.
03:43 PM on 06/03/10
#7
aradiantsunrise
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For some reason multi-quote won't work so I'm going to get twittery up in this biatch.

@cwhit412 Thanks man, agreed.

@kidchino08 Wow, didn't even catch that, haha. But yeah, It's a New Order cover.

@inthemidst You didn't like any songs on SA or the Since I Left Your World EP?
03:47 PM on 06/03/10
#8
inthemidst
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For some reason multi-quote won't work so I'm going to get twittery up in this biatch.

@cwhit412 Thanks man, agreed.

@kidchino08 Wow, didn't even catch that, haha. But yeah, It's a New Order cover.

@inthemidst You didn't like any songs on SA or the Since I Left Your World EP?
I like a couple tracks off of Sweet Attention, but the album as a whole was forgettable to me. As far as the EP, I haven't had the chance to listen yet, but I was mainly referring to only full-lengths.
03:49 PM on 06/03/10
#9
aradiantsunrise
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I like a couple tracks off of Sweet Attention, but the album as a whole was forgettable to me. As far as the EP, I haven't had the chance to listen yet, but I was mainly referring to only full-lengths.
Ever try listening to it during the summer time? It's a perfect fit. I know most of the songs on it aren't the best but they're fun. The EP sounds beautiful as well, very Goodnight Moon-esque and then some.
03:50 PM on 06/03/10
cwhit412
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I like a couple tracks off of Sweet Attention, but the album as a whole was forgettable to me. As far as the EP, I haven't had the chance to listen yet, but I was mainly referring to only full-lengths.
Love the EP. It's great. I reviewed it a while back (not on here, but for my blog). It's a pretty lousy review, so don't even look for it.
03:54 PM on 06/03/10
inthemidst
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Love the EP. It's great. I reviewed it a while back (not on here, but for my blog). It's a pretty lousy review, so don't even look for it.

I'll have to check it out later. Thanks!
03:55 PM on 06/03/10
inthemidst
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Ever try listening to it during the summer time? It's a perfect fit. I know most of the songs on it aren't the best but they're fun. The EP sounds beautiful as well, very Goodnight Moon-esque and then some.
Ha, yeah I have, but I guess I just wasn't feeling it. It's not bad by any means, but compared to The Goodnight Moon, it just doesn't hold up.
03:59 PM on 06/03/10
aradiantsunrise
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Ha, yeah I have, but I guess I just wasn't feeling it. It's not bad by any means, but compared to The Goodnight Moon, it just doesn't hold up.
Haha yeah, nothing has been able to beat TGM yet. I wish Sooner or Later was on that album so it would make it that much more perfect.
04:14 PM on 06/03/10
inthemidst
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Haha yeah, nothing has been able to beat TGM yet. I wish Sooner or Later was on that album so it would make it that much more perfect.
That's one of the few tracks I like on the album. Good call!
04:25 PM on 06/03/10
aradiantsunrise
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That's one of the few tracks I like on the album. Good call!
Such a moving song dude.
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