One reviewer recently said that he was struggling to think of things to say about singer-songwriter John McKeown, and I can see where he might be coming from. There’s nothing bad I can say about this release, but in some ways I can’t pour forth paragraphs and paragraphs of praise either.
What we have here is a well written album, with some beautiful instrumentation, that’s not really different enough to stand out among its peers. The twelve tracks are a mix of pop, country, and soul sounds that veer between simple guitar arrangements, and soaring/swirling melodies. Some songs have a lead guitar track as the focus, while others layer pianos, guitars, other instruments, and backing vocals together in a subtle, yet commercial way. In terms of stand out tracks I think the award would go to ‘Can’t Be Right’ for it’s outstanding piano melody, and title track ‘Things Worth Fighting For’ which adds a little something different, with its African vocal and drum rhythms. ‘Up Where You Belong’, and ‘Touch’ are also quite catchy.
Overall, I think what this album essentially lacks is variety, what may be well written and charming just leads on to more of the same, and sometimes you can have too much of a sense of déjà vu. I’d like to see more variety and depth in the vocals, and also the style/tempo of the songs. He’s got all the tools, and a first class line-up of musicians to work with, he just needs to make us, the listener, sit up and pay attention.
Verdict: Nice but too much of the same!
Album is available from 28th September 2009. Further information is available from www.johnmckeown.net.