Friday, May 7, 2010

Review: Jason Castro "Jason Castro"

I know what CD Paula Abdul is salivating over right now - the new release from Jason Castro, voted off during the final stages of the seventh season of American Idol. The bright-eyed, dreadlocked, easy-going singer-songwriter took it all in stride and patiently crafted this self-titled debut over the years.

While he doesn't have the vocal prowess and performance skills of most Idol wannabes, Castro did have an earnest charm and could more than carry a tune. His soft, understated tenor did a magnificent job with Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", which is justifiably included as the closer on this short 8 song CD (note: there is an version of Jason Castro that contains six additional tracks not available on the standard release - but I've decided to boycott this "deluxe" and "expanded" edition nonsense).

Castro's potential has recruited an admirable base of songwriters and production expertise to his project. The result is rather pleasant and innocuous acoustic-based pop rock. Consistent with the personality he displayed during his tenure on Idol, the songs generally have a sunny disposition that makes you feel all warm inside. In many cases, you'll find that you can't help wanting to sing along. "Let's Just Fall In Love Again" is a bouncy power pop tune that sounds contemporary, but clearly has some 70s bubblegum pop influence. "This Heart Of Mine" is similar, with a breezy quality many will find refreshing. I wish there were more tracks like these, because from here the CD slows down fast and never picks back up. "That's What I'm Here For" is too generic and "Love Uncompromised" sounds like a Colbie Caillat reject. "Closer" is a melodic mid-tempo tune that teases the that pace will back up, but it is followed by another ballad called "You Can Always Come Home", which features some sweet harmony vocals from Serena Ryder. "It Matters To Me" is yet another ballad, but one of the stronger ones in my opinion. As mentioned, "Hallelujah" is the closing track - nicely done, but yet another ballad. I would have preferred a few more upbeat tracks to make this CD more well rounded - maybe they are all on the expanded version, which is a shame.

While lyrically simplistic and heavy on the ballads, Castro's debut is pretty fun and catchy. Check him out if you like Matt Nathanson, Jason Mraz, or Colbie Caillat.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 5, 7, 8

Jason Castro on MySpace. Official site.

Check out the video for "Let's Just Fall In Love Again":

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