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Live It Up (RCA)

The latest American Idol champ falls somewhere between the last two guys you can name from the show. He's not nearly as obnoxious as Adam Lambert, and he has a little more personality than blah season-eight winner Kris Allen. On his debut album, the 24-year-old Illinois native sounds like a more soulful version of Dave Matthews, holding back (for the most part) on the vocal acrobatics that plague so many Idol contestants. The best cuts on Live It Up are the ones that breezily pass on simple life lessons: "Beautiful Like You," "Earth Stood Still," and the title tune. Since DeWyze co-wrote most of the songs, he sticks with Live It Up until the end, a refreshing distinction from so many recent records by Idol alums. It's hard to say if DeWyze is in it for the long run, like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. Smart money says no. But the album says maybe. — Gallucci

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