Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Review -- JASON PLUMB and The Willing -- Beauty In This World

BEAUTY IN THIS WORLD
Jason Plumb and The Willing
Soccer Mom Records
7.5-out-of-10
There are always challenges to writing, even something a seemingly straightforward as a music review. In the case of Beauty In This World, it's the challenge of time. The CD arrived on my desk June 18, and since Jason Plumb and The Willing will be performing in Yorkton this Friday (see related story this issue), it was timely to have the review written in a week.
Now that doesn't mean it takes a week to write these few words, I write thousands of words weekly for this newspaper, but seven days does put pressure on the listening process. Like most of us, I like to slowly get into the groove of an album. The thoughts on an album after one listen are usually quite different than what one thinks after several listens. It's nice to spend some time with the music, to see if hooks stay in the mind, if you find yourself wanting to listen to it a week, or three after that first listen.
To be fair to Beauty In This World, I did give it several spins, but when you do it back to back, sort of like hitting the play again button on the old 8-track in the farm truck, it can become just music.
So, what did the rushed process mean in terms of Jason Plumb, best known as the former lead singer of The Waltons, a band that carved out a pretty good run a few years back?
Well, Plumb's latest effort has a definite retro feel too it. This is really like stepping back a decade, or two.
Do you remember Hall and Oates, a rather popular duo in the 1970's and beyond? Of course if you lived through that era you do. Plumb will rekindle those memories with his style here, and even with his voice.
There's also touches here that remind of Air Supply.
Given that feel, it's no surprise one of two songs on the CD not penned by Plumb is Skyhigh, a song which reached #3 on the Billboard charts for the British band Jigsaw in 1975.
The other non-original goes back to 1971, the Bill Withers song Hope She'll Be Happier.
So those comparisons, and his choice of cover songs tell you where Plumb now resides musically.
Personally, this style wasn't my thing in high school, more Meatloaf and The Eagles, but I do find this something of a nostalgic journey.
There are cuts here that are very good. I particularly like Drive, When Nothing Was Wrong (with an intro reminiscent of Billy Joel), and Starlight, Starbright.
Plumb does miss once on Protest Song, a sort of interlude song that he tries for a touch of humour missed into the lyrics, and it comes off as flat and lacking, especially against the backdrop of 10 far better numbers on the album.
Vocally, now there is the strength of this effort. Plumb has a flat out strong melodic voice. He can sing, and the retro-rock influence so evident in his writing, allows him to use his voice to full advantage.
So, if you like '70s music, or simply appreciate a good vocalist, then you should pick up Beauty In This World.
You can check out Plumb in more detail at http://www.jasonplumb.com/
-- CALVIN DANIELS

-- - Reviews first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper June 27, 2007 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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