Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Review: TJay "Take A Seat"

While the name TJay might sound like a hip-hop artist to you, don't be fooled. The TJay we are talking about here is a former baseball player who almost went to the Major Leagues before settling on a career in making music as a singer/songwriter.

A few minutes into "Take A Seat" and you'll be drawing comparisons to John Mayer, Jason Mraz, and Dave Matthews. The latter is especially apparent when saxophone extraordinaire Bill Evans contributes to the songs (he can be heard on "State Street Blues", "Hey In Your Sleep", and "Pretend You're Driving". TJay, who has a voice that sounds remarkably like the AOR master Danny Vaughn (Tyketto), writes and plays the type of blues-tinged jazz rock that gained a lot of popularity in the 90s. It is not the typical musical dish I order off the menu, but when you are in the mood for this genre, TJay has a lot to offer.

There is no question that the playing and production on "Take A Seat" is top-notch. TJay is a terrific guitar player, riffing like nobody's business and reminding me of greats like Willy Porter. TJay also sings very well, but his tone is not a perfect fit for some of the tunes. I appreciate that he doesn't go off on endless jam sessions - one of the reasons I usually avoid these kinds of artists. TJay's songs are focused and to the point, with decent lyrics and sometimes a memorable melody. Most of the time, however, the music is too complex to effectively impregnate the mind the way a simple pop song would. And this is my primary dilemma with this sort of music - the melody and hook often play second fiddle to the "look what I can do on my guitar". There are key instances, though, where things gel rather nicely - these include the title track, "State Street Blues", "Goldfish", and "My Blues".

Perhaps the most informed comment regarding TJay comes from Steve Lillywhite (producer of Dave Matthews Band, U2, Counting Crows, Jason Mraz, Matchbox 20) says: "(TJay is) at the same place in (his) career that Dave Matthews was when he recorded 'Remember Two Things'". Will TJay like up to these high expectations? We'll have to take a seat and wait for time to tell.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 3, 5, 9

TJay on MySpace. Official site.

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