Amid a sea of melismatic showoffs and crass belters, he stood out as an old-fashioned crooner in the thrall of a faraway vision. Still not fully emerged from his shell, this baby chick poked its head into the spotlight, oblivious to the smirks and raised eyebrows of the judges, to make a stand for a kinder, gentler pop of fluttery hearts and flowers and courtly gestures.
At Feinstein's at the Regency, where he is appearing with a small, well-rehearsed swing band, Mr. Stevens, whose first album (for Maverick Records) will be released next week, acquitted himself on Tuesday as a poised but diffident teenager whose musical personality is still mostly a blank slate. ...
Mr. Stevens's musical instincts seem mercifully uncontaminated by the ego-driven values of "American Idol." He has a pleasant, mild delivery and sings on pitch; his swinging instincts are palpable, if still tentative.