Friday, March 20, 2009

Review: Jon McLaughlin "OK Now"

"OK Now", the latest from today's piano man, Jon McLaughlin, is quite a sharp turn from his impressive work thus far. Throwing the piano to the wind for the most part, Jon embraces 80s dance grooves and booty shaking rhythms. For those of us hoping and expecting another "Indiana", "OK Now" is a shock to the system. Going off in a new musical direction is always interesting and bold, but in this case the result is sickeningly commercial and boring. The attempt to be hip or contemporary in the vein of Maroon 5 is very transparent and just doesn't work for me. What have they done with poor Jon McLaughlin?

Jon's natural vocal talent and his stunning skills at tickling the ivories are greatly understated on this inflated and overly produced effort. The only track where this fusion of fluffy dance music works for me is on "You Can Never Go Back", largely because it sounds like E.L.O.. There is some potential with "Dance Your Life Away", a rare rocker featuring a crisp and crunchy guitar riff and 80s vibe, but the inane lyrics just kill it for me.

To be fair, there are a few more traditional Jon McLaughlin pieces to be appreciated, such as "Four Years", a handy guide to surviving the perils of high school. Other highlights include "The Middle", "Always On My Mind" (not a cover), and a reasonable ballad, "Throw My Love Around".

If you are a hardcore fan of Jon McLaughlin's past work and don't care much for Maroon 5, "OK Now" is one of those CDs where you are better off downloading individual tracks.

iPOD-worthy: 2, 3, 5, 7, 10

Jon McLaughlin on MySpace. Official Site.

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