Sunday, October 05, 2008

As I watch my feet take turns hitting the ground

I can't remember whether I've ever mentioned this on the blog or only in comments elsewhere, but I don't like John Mayer's music (no, this isn't going to be about his rising-up-the-charts cover of "Free Fallin'")--blame "Your Body's A Wonderland" and "Daughters" (I'm sure I'm just setting myself up for the day he releases something brilliant and I have to take that back, but those songs really do drive me crazy). In fact, I usually, despite all evidence to the contrary presented here on the blog, think of myself as being pretty leery of male singer-songwriter types (note that the singer-songwriter type is not necessarily the same as someone who writes and sings their own songs; the latter need not necessarily be the former and, to an extent, vice-versa).

All that notwithstanding, I've been hopeful about Jon McLaughlin since back in 2006. His song "Industry" appeared on this blog in its first few months of life and it's a song, in that version, that I'd still stand up for today, one of the songs I'm most glad I've posted (I think the version that eventually went on to appear on his major label debut, Indiana, was inferior--it felt like it had been excessively padded out to create a sound that would cause people to say "oh, he's a great piano-based (serious) singer-songwriter," when in fact it was the greatness, the willingness and knowledge to rise and fall, to let things build and to let them fall out, of the original version that actually proved that point). "Praying To The Wrong God" and, to a little lesser degree, the delicate croony "Beautiful Disaster" from Indiana are great songs as well, and yet somehow I wasn't sold enough to buy the whole album. He was still an artist I continued to have great hope for, though, that one day he'd live up to his promise, and I was really hoping his appearance in the movie Enchanted with the song "So Close" would end up bringing him the level of fame he deserved.

The song won him an Oscar nomination, but despite Jon actually appearing in the movie singing the song, he didn't properly break, at least not at the level I would like.

He's just recently been given a second chance at making it big (or at least the level of big your singer-songwriter can get to), and with some surprising big writers and producers supporting him (as well as with a bit of a restyling--see photo below); the final song in this post was, unexpectedly, produced by Tricky Stewart and The-Dream. On a new record label, Jon's released the single "Beating My Heart" (video here), but once again mainstream success seems to be proving elusive for him. With the album, titled OK Now, set to come out in a few days, I guess all I can do is hope buzz builds after its release or he'll get yet another chance.

Of the songs we've heard from this era, not all work for me, but the ones that do are great. I'm not sure whether it's Jon's voice, whether he's got a better ear for melody, or whether I just bring less prejudices to the table with him, but he manages to win me over where other singer-songwriters don't: on the ballads. "Things That You Say" is a ballad that goes for that not unheard "lie to me, say our relationship is better off than it actually is" angle, but there's something dreamy about enough of the moments here that I buy it, hook, line, and...well, and almost sinker.

"Smack Into You" is, once again, a ballad, but despite my best efforts to resist, that swoony chorus sucked me in. It's a slow-burning song, the very opposite of what the title leads you to expect--well, perhaps not; that title does have a bit of an Adult Contemporary ring to it, doesn't it? And the song is that, but it's no worse off for it. It's an enfolding, enveloping song, and if countless people are robbed of the ability to fall in love to the soundtrack of Jon's warm, intimate-yet-increasingly-flirting-with-epic reassurances and especially that final "ryunnn-ryunnn-ryunnn-ryunnn-ryoo-oo-oo-oo-oun" because "Smack Into You" is relegated to being an iTunes bonus track, I will not be happy. Could a widely watched TV show license it for use in a key scene right now, please?

To preorder Jon McLaughlin's new album, OK Now, due out October 7, go here (physical). To listen to clips of all the songs, go here. I don't know how the album as a whole will be, but we've at least got several gems out of the full lengths songs we've heard so far. He is incorporating bits of '80's influence into his singer-songwriter style here--we'll see how it works out, though I hope it does so.

Next up: maybe that Belgian song.


Adem With An E said...

Oh, you're right; that chorus is GORGEOUS. I'd only really heard little bits and bobs of Jon's stuff before but do remember his bit in Enchanted quite well and loved the song.

Also, has to be said, he's bloody hot too. Like, phwoar x 1,000 really.

Len W said...

When I read this post I had to go check if his "Beautiful Disaster" was the same song that Kelly Clarkson sings (of course it isn't). The Kelly-version was performed this week by the adorable Alice Svensson on Swedish Idol (which has had a few shockers in the voting already, btw).

Paul said...

Screw the music! Look at how hot he looks all suited and booted :P (yes i'm shallow)

Poster Girl said...

Oh, Adem, you should have seen the original version of this post! Double the photos. But then I decided that might have been overdoing it.

Yup, and Kelly's is a better song, too, I think. I owe you an e-mail about those DVDs, too--it's coming soon!

Paul, but it's good music! The looks are just a plus...or maybe you're right at that is vice-versa. Hmm. All the more reason for him to make it big, I guess.

Bas said...

is the album any good? I think Beating My Heart is amazing but wasnt too sure when hearing the short clips of the other songs that feature on his new release.