CD REVIEW: J.J. Crowne - Self titled
by: Cyrus Rhodes
"Crowne is world-class"
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST-
Artist: J.J. Crowne
CD: J.J. Crowne
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Singer/Songwriter, Pop, Rock
Sounds Like: Billy Joel, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Seals and Crofts, Jim Croce, Cat Stevens
Technical Grade: 9/10
Weakness: More solo segments, more vocal emotion
J.J. Crowne is an established singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who, after attending Oberlin Music Conservatory, started his professional musical career as a composer, performer and producer of theatrical music, radio jingles, and TV cues & themes for Fox, PBS and Univision TV among others. In his home of Miami, he opened shows for The Mavericks in the early 1990′s. A true Renaissance Man, Crowne completed law school along the way, and devotes his “day job” legal career to representing the indigent. The new CD “J.J. Crowne” was released May 1, 2013 featuring newly mixed and mastered versions of the five songs from last year’s EP, along with five new songs – all mixed and mastered by legendary engineer Jeff Silverman along with J.J. Crowne. The CD became available on iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby, and is now available in both hard-copy and digital form on all other major outlets. FM stations in over 30 markets around the U.S. (from Berkeley to St. Louis to Nashville to Baltimore) have now added it to their playlists.
The CD gently kicks things off with melodic “Only Time” a passionate guitar/guitar driven melody with upbeat vibe, hooky chorus and emotionally charged vocal delivery from Crowne. Track 2 “Best of Intentions” shifts gears a bit with it's methodical musical build, melodic musical flow coupled with impressive bluesy-type guitar riffs, impressive orchestral stringss. Track 3 “Everything About You” delivers slow moving intro, well placed piano and warm baritone eventually lending itself into a upbeat pop ballad meshed with an infectious melody and thought provoking lyrical content that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. As the CD unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of Billy Joel, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Seals and Crofts, Jim Croce and Cat Stevens. Right from the start you will notice the overall musical vibe has a nice, melodic poppy, hooky feel to it. The guitar playing and overall musicianship is rock solid across the board as Crowne and company dish out impressive guitar licks, rock solid rhythm guitar playing, impressive Piano, Saxophone, percussive accents, harpsichord, xylophone, and melodic string movements. Crowne’s got solid vocal timber and is full of passion. He’s got good songwriting instincts within each movement he displays an impressive and consistent timber throughout. His vocal style reminds me of a cross between Cat Stevens and Jim Croce. The musicianship from all the other members of the band has everything you would expect from a standard 4 piece pop-rock band. The songs themselves are consistent musical experiences, each one possessing unique personality, flair and signature groove. The production quality is rock solid with crystal clear high end clarity and solid low end punch. From melodic “Finally Your Turn” to warm and inviting “Kindred Hearts” and “She and He” to upbeat and invigorating “Another Day of Love” to masterpiece standout track “Toy Soldiers” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 10 “I Can Be the Wind” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
It’s hard to find any solid weaknesses with this production. I do however wish there were more solo segments throughout the catalog be it guitar. piano, saxophone. There were plenty of opportunities for this, the end result being more variety and a better mix up of the songs/music overall. I also recommend Crown somehow bring more vocal emotion to the table on some of his performances. This can be done by providing more vocal peak and valley within the vocal delivery. Just listen to Joe Cocker’s “You are so Beautiful” or R.E.M “Hairshirt” to see what I’m talking about. At the end of the day people don’t buy paper and plastic, they buy emotions. It's a critical component especially within the Singer/Songwriter genera.
In close the latest release by J.J. Crowne is an impressive, passionate, poppy, hooky 10 song release that’s sure to be a hit this Summer. If he has a slam dunk live presentation down in Florida that would be a deadly combination no doubt. The songs are extremely melodic, passionate and highly entertaining – and clearly prove Crowne is on to something special in 2013. At the end of the day J.J. Crowne is a world-class singer/songwriter possessing a passionate pop personality clearly worthy of worldwide recognition. One would be wise to keep a watchful on him over the years to come.