Jackson Howard is an artist who just released Just For The Mystery. It’s a certified pop album but Howard bounces around to different genres making it very difficult to place any type of signature sound. A glaring juxtaposition is the western country themed “The Battle of Evermore” compared to singer/songwriter pop of “A Place in This World.” This is just one example of many.
The album opens with “Just For the Mystery” which is a super upbeat beat summer song. The song is catchy and FM radio ready in an easy listening type of way. “Run With Me” tries to attempt large and grand in a Mumford & Sons type of way while “Hideaway” is almost exactly the opposite and goes for intimate and sweet.
A personal favorite was “Driftwood” which has hints of Donovan and Simon and Garfunkel. It sounded more natural to me and like he wasn't trying as hard to fit into a mold with this track. He had some more success with “This Town” but it feels a bit more commercial.
Up next is “Dizzy” which is a bluesy and soulful song which only adds another layer of confusion of what he is trying to accomplish and where the album is going. His inflection even sounds noticeably different. “If I Fall” is a piano ballad that seems to be influenced by Elton John. Perhaps the biggest juxtaposition is between the intimate fireplace song “Tribute” and the closer which is a cover of “Unbelievable.”
The main issue with this album is that it seems like there was almost no regard to making it cohesive. It's an important factor in building a sound and building an audience. I cannot even explain what kind of music he plays because it feels like every song is an island on to itself.
That being said he has a good voice and he is a good songwriter. My advice on his next album is to think more about pre-production and how everything fits. The whole being greater than the sum of its part is what albums are about it and why we just don't listen to singles.
Just For The Mystery is a collection of songs to my ears. I’m sure you will probably find a couple that you enjoy.
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