In the past, singer-songwriters were known for the diversified sounds, engaging words and raw creativity they used to shape their music. Just look at Bob Dylan’s off-key vocals mixed with his metaphorical, protesting lyrics, Johnny Cash’s low, soothing ballads and effortless guitar skill and Janis Joplin’s raspy love songs.
Today’s singer-songwriters instead tend to opt for tender falsetto vocals mixed with simple, airy acoustic chords and lyrics composed around basic themes like love and heartache.
Twenty-seven-year-old Iowa-born Jason Reeves is no exception to this repetitive cycle. With the support of his family, Reeves dropped out of college and has since produced multiple albums — his first when he was 19.
The first album that gained him recognition was The Magnificent Adventures of Heartache (And Other Frightening Tales…) in 2007. Many of the songs were said to have extremely heartfelt lyrics intertwined with a sound similar to James Taylor and John Mayer. Reeves garnered attention in the folk music community and debuted at No. 2 on iTunes’ folk chart.
Unfortunately, fans of Reeves will be let down by his latest release, The Lovesick, since it does not bring any creative or real originality into the music industry. Instead, it highlights an artist with an auto-tuned falsetto, catchy beats and basic lyrics that discuss a basic love tale: a shy boy who can’t convey how in love he is with a girl, who finally gets the courage and says what they have is infinity to one, and eventually he is heartbroken. Even the album cover, which portrays a black-and-white picture of Reeves’ face and a childish hand drawn heart in one of his pupils, indicates the cliché depiction of love.
The album kicks off with his single “Helium Hearts,” which could be the perfect Disney television show theme song because of what sounds like a combination of Howie Day’s simple guitar strums and the Backstreet Boys’ young vocals. Following is “Simple Song,” which could not have been more precisely named because it only adds to Reeves’ boy band sound, simplistic lyrics, electronic beats and male background vocals, instead of him being a serious and poetic singer-songwriter.
The Lovesick continues with the second-most downloaded song off the album, “Save My Heart,” which sounds like a lesser LFO hit with awkward synthesizer beats and prepubescent lyrics about a guy not being able to tell the one he loves his feelings.
Reeves brings another happy, upbeat and bland love song to the collection with “Infinity to One,” where he wails about what he and the girl he loves have, and how hard that love is to find. “Sticks and Stones” is an attempt to bring a pop boy into the club with a driving beat and heavy synthesizer.
The most popular song off the album is “No Lies,” which features Colbie Caillat, a good friend of Reeves, but sounds like a poor karaoke duet instead of what could’ve been beautiful harmonies intertwined with deep lyrics to create an unbelievably touching love song.
“Only With You” follows, and sounds more like Reeves’ earlier music because it is stripped of club beats, synthesizer and extraneous background vocals.
Reeves follows with another attempt at a duet with Kara DioGuardi in “No One Ever Taught Us,” but the song is disappointing — from a musical standpoint — as he is only outshined by her graceful voice.
“Alone” and “Truth” are the final two tracks on The Lovesick, and are Reeves’ hope to create slower, touching love songs. “Alone” bleats insignificant and dull words, such as If we are better off apart then I hope wherever we go we’re always brave enough to be alone, while “Truth” evokes the sound of a lesser Daniel Bedingfield.
The Lovesick contains a lack of vision, nuance and any of the musical or vocal talent that Reeves could exhibit. Instead, The Lovesick brings listeners back to the late ’90s and early 2000s when the likes of Ashley Parker Angel and the Backstreet Boys were blasting through tween stereos.
The simplicity of the album demonstrates Jason Reeves to be a less attractive, male version of Taylor Swift. Hopefully, he can revive his name in the coming year with an artistic, soulful and emotional album that displays more prowess.