Starting Now, the album he made in 2008 after appearing on the short-lived Fox reality show Nashville, didn’t turn Chuck Wicks into a star but it did get his foot into the door of the Music City. Over the next eight years, he has worked steadily behind the scenes as a songwriter – his most prominent success was “I Don’t Do Lonely Well” on Jason Aldean’s 2012 album Night Train – and he angled for another record contract, eventually putting out an EP called Rough on his own in 2013.
It took another three years before he finally delivered Turning Point; the title does seem optimistic – this is the place where his career hits turnaround – and the music contained within is amiable and well-constructed, the kind of mainstream country that could conceivably be a staple on modern country radio. That said, Chuck Wicks largely avoids any truly contemporary trends, by and large dodging the good-time vibes of bro country (“Watcha Got Girl” does come pretty close) along with the hip-hop-informed country-soul that Sam Hunt and Thomas Rhett pioneered in the wake of Luke Bryan. Instead, Chuck Wicks feels like a throwback to a decade prior, a pleasant, tuneful guy next door who doesn’t crank the guitars as loud as Kenny Chesney and feels like he’s crooning sweet nothings even when he’s partying. Part of his problem is that he seems so nice he doesn’t wind up with a defined personality, but that’s where his pro skills come in. He knows how to craft a tune and Turning Point is filled with 11 solid ones, and even if that isn’t the recipe for a successful album, it can seem like a good demo reel from a strong songwriter.