He may have started out writing for Diddy and Sean Kingston, but singer/songwriter Jason Desrouleaux - known statewide as Jason Derülo - had his sights set on becoming a performer. Hanging on the balances of electro-pop and Chris Brown-esque crossover R&B, the Florida native makes his national debut with a self-titled, moderately short ten track production. On the surface, Derülo feels like the new thing designed for UK synth-pop domination, but the climate in U.S. pop radio today is neutral to Derulo's tween pleading, handsome vocals (with some extra Auto-tune propping) and his carefully-designed lyrics. For urban R&B, the album is a bit pedestrian -- too safe for the ego-dominant street culture and its accompanying bass-and-rhythm fixations. For soul audiences, the synth-controlled, pop-friendly melodies are too slippery for their standards. But, pop will have a field day promoting the album.
The heavy elements of pop-rock ("In My Head," "What If"), popular hip-hop emcee openers (a trend that works when you're minus a rap collabo) and slick suburban pop ("Encore," "Fallen") guided by J.R. Rotem's hi-def production makes it insurmountably difficult to pass up. It's even interesting to hear Derülo incorporating smart leftovers from Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You" on "Love Hangover" while telling a story wrapped in country-pop personality.
While much of the disc, even the bonus rave-dance tune "Strobelight," could get its share of exposure on Top 40 radio, the connectivity of the songs is a bit of a hodgepodge of pop music's latest tricks and treats, like a Now! compilation. Coming across as a chameleon of pop variations from track to track, Derülo seems as if he's trying to find the perfect spot to best identify his style. His debut still stands up like a safely-executed EP, even with its brevity. The good news for Derülo is that he's most certain to grab a comfortable fleet of followers. They just won't be as diverse and committed as they could have been.
Notable Tracks: "Fallen," "In My Head, "Ridin' Solo" "Love Hangover"
Vocals: 3.0 stars
Music: 3.0 stars
Lyrics: 3.0 stars
Production: 3.0 stars
SoulTracks Call: Recommended
By J. Matthew Cobb