F.L. Jones - Becoming Myself (2009)

F.L. Jones
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I must admit during my first run through of Becoming Myself I wasn't prepared to hear the big genre leaps to 80s pop/rock, then to acoustic house/disco, and then again to smooth soul, but play-by-play, they grew on me. Those genre jumps and Jones' hurried rhyme techniques may still be album pitfalls for some, but for me Jones's talent still finds a way to make these grooves blossom. What gives the album its calling card is the Northern soul tinge of Jones's vocals, a dry martini mix of Seal and Lenny Kravitz. Though most of Jones' vocal work could be reduced to clever whispers and the occasional gritty staccato grunt, here his execution proves smart, giving these songs a wit and expediency that will leave listeners' surprised. While the genre shifts may strike up some resistance with particular listeners, the album is still full of musical treats.

I must admit during my first run through of Becoming Myself I wasn't prepared to hear the big genre leaps to 80s pop/rock, then to acoustic house/disco, and then again to smooth soul, but play-by-play, they grew on me. Those genre jumps and Jones' hurried rhyme techniques may still be album pitfalls for some, but for me Jones's talent still finds a way to make these grooves blossom. What gives the album its calling card is the Northern soul tinge of Jones's vocals, a dry martini mix of Seal and Lenny Kravitz. Though most of Jones' vocal work could be reduced to clever whispers and the occasional gritty staccato grunt, here his execution proves smart, giving these songs a wit and expediency that will leave listeners' surprised. While the genre shifts may strike up some resistance with particular listeners, the album is still full of musical treats. Credibly, Jones briskly enters into AC pop when rendering the peppy 80s melodies on the regretful "Waking Up Without You," a particularly painstakingly arranged cut. "Hey Friend" (whose piano chords bare a striking resemblance to Sara Bareilles's "Love Song") and "Sexy Beast" are also cool retro innovations. He also toys with funk on the brief, Prince/James Brown-styled opener for "Living By the Funk," giving the song an ambient playfulness. Breezy Philly strings coat the big disco sounds of "I Choose You" and "Did I Mention" radiates those pulsating, Tortured Soul vibes. Solid production and supersonic musical fireworks make even the B-side offerings of the project passable. With just a couple of extra repeats, it's surprising how good Becoming Myself actually becomes.

Notable tracks: "Hey Friend," "Did I Mention," "Waking Up Without You" and "I Choose You"

Vocals: 2.5 stars
Lyrics: 2 stars
Music: 3 stars
Production: 3 stars
SoulTracks Call: Recommended

By J. Matthew Cobb

 
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