After shaking things up with his non-conformist ways on American Idol Season 10, multi-instrumentalist Casey Abrams has finally released his debut, self-titled release. Within the first few bars of the first song, I knew this one was worth the wait.
I gotta say for starters, I have admittedly been waiting for this album ever since Abrams showed up on Idol. Even with his various mis-steps and his penchant for growling too much on his songs, it was apparent that this guy is remarkably talented. (Anyone who can stand up there alone with a double bass and entertain a television audience of millions has got something on the ball.) His ability to weave jazz and folk elements with pop sensibilities won over millions of fans, most of whom were devastated when he eventually got voted off the show. In a day when pop artists all seem to run together, Abrams broke the mold. I totally wanted to be in a band with him.
Casey Abrams (the album) basically picks up where his stint on the show left off. Musically speaking, this is a more seasoned version of Casey Abrams—less growly, and more controlled, but definitely Casey. And I’m happy to say that the mis-steps are ironed out—there isn’t one to be found on this record.
All the elements we loved about Abrams are there: a great mixture of jazz, folk, soul and rock elements all wrapped up in a pop music package. But unlike so many American Idol standouts who have been shoved into a pop package and subsequently lost their edge, with Abrams, it seems to be working in reverse. Casey Abrams makes pop music interesting again. You can draw a few comparisons here and there—an occasional vocal riff that sounds like John Mayer, and an eschewing of fashion sense rivaling that of Bon Iver—but comparisons will only take you so far. Casey Abrams is like…well…Casey Abrams; he’s really one of a kind.
Overall, the record has a light, fun feel to it, making it a pefect release for summer. The opener “Simple Life” truly sets the tone for the whole record, and songs like “Get Out” and “Blame It On Me” (with its potent double-bass riffs) continue to carry the momentum, making you want to smile, clap, and sometimes dance. Folks who love the growly, jazzy side of Abrams will get a kick out of the swinging “Dry Spell,” and the cover of “Hit the Road Jack” (a duet with Idol-mate Haley Reinhart) gives the whole record a tasty finish.
I honestly don’t know how well this record is going to chart, given the fact that Abrams is still technically a newcomer, and a bit left of center at that—and it’s uncertain how much money the label with throw at publicity. But I can tell you this: Casey Abrams (the album) deserves every bit of attention it can get. For fans of just plain good music, this is the must-have record of the summer.
ALBUM RATING: 5 Stars (out of five)