Although he finished third on the 2008 season of American Idol, Jason Castro — the impossibly cute, dreadlocked tenor with the aw-shucks demeanor — always seemed like a reluctant star. He gave the distinct impression he never took the show or himself too seriously and didn’t seem to give a hoot if he won or lost. So the surprise is just how surefooted his self-titled first album really is. Had Castro actually won Idol, the resulting record would have been awash in slick production, and in all likelihood he’d have been stuck singing Diane Warren songs. Instead, Castro gets to make the kind of music he wants to make. Eric Rosse’s dirge-free production frames the songs in a refreshingly bright, crystal-clear ambience with guitars that jangle and shine. It’s a perfect marriage of 1960s rainbow-and-sunshine pop wed to a blithe, modern-alternative sensibility. The dreamy walking-on-clouds feel extends itself to the songs’ lyrics (like in the whimsical “Let’s Just Fall in Love Again”) and the dizzy-in-love sentiment of the chiming rocker “Closer.” The boyish, innocent charm Castro exuded on Idol is all over the grooves, making you feel like you’re getting an honest representation of the man himself. The CD closes with Castro’s Jeff Buckley-inspired take on Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” his shining moment on American Idol. It says something about the singer that he never overshadows everything around him. He plays the Grog Shop at 6:30 p.m., with Michael Castro and Camera Can’t Lie opening. Tickets: $15. —Tierney Smith
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