's singer, Luke Reynolds, sounds exactly, uncannily, absurdly like Chris Martin of Coldplay. So much so that the experience of listening to the Nashville band's Island debut, Burning in the Sun
, starts with bewilderment, moves to annoyance, then progresses to laughter. A look at the album cover reveals that Reynolds not only employs Martin's same warbling falsetto and cotton-mouthed vocal bends but also has the same haircut. Is Blue Merle's music, flavored with winsome mandolin and violin breaks, worth diving into, regardless of the presence of a -- and let's make this perfectly clear -- Martin clone? Well, the music is
good -- the songwriting is sunny and sophisticated, with a touch of sleek rusticity. (After all, this band is from Nashville.) One element of the sound may be boundlessly derivative, but the rest of it deserves an unbiased listen.