Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Jason Antone-The Real Thing (2000)


It's really here—the rare debut album by the Chicago, Illinois pop artist Jason Antone! Hard to believe that, when I first got hip to him and his music a little over five years ago, I missed out on this hidden gem. I'd believed for a long time that 2009's "Start To Move" was Jason's official entry into the pop music world when, nearly a decade earlier, he'd already recorded and independently released "The Real Thing" through alternative distribution channels. Very ambitious of him making a statement and name for himself using just his remarkably soulful voice and the simplest synthpop production, a tactic that showcases the Chicago singer in the most rawest form I've ever heard since enjoying his thrilling contributions to the dance genre. Upon taking in the opening title track, where he proudly proclaims to be 'the real thing' when it comes to real love, I quickly realized just how good this man sounds—his vocals rising loud and clear above the funky, electronic beat which, as has been the case lately with the things I've been listening to, reminds me yet again of those early 8-bit video game days of the 80's. Distinctively 80's Freestyle, even, is how my ears interpreted "If You Want It", accented by those big-time synthesized vamps in the production before the main chorus. From offering to give good loving if it's wanted to extending an invitation of coming back to love altogether, the slowed-down beat of this album's third track, "Return To Love". is an excellent place to enjoy the fruits of Jason's soulful talents. It was at this juncture where I declared he could've been quite successful in the easy-listening, adult contemporary genre. Then further declaring my declaration is the album's next slow-beat tune, "Like I Think About You", where Jason asks the important question 'do you think about me, like I think about you?' while a soft melody and light guitar soothes the senses; the classic story of waiting around for someone who is being untrue to the relationship all along on "What Took You So Long?" (the bluesy rock swing of this song is both unexpected and totally cool, and it's a very different-sounding Jason Antone than I met around 2008-ish with the burning passion he delivers on the lyrics—double voice effects and all); then the haunting concluding jewel that is "Nothing To Hide" (love how the soothing woodwind and the slow beat sets the mellow mood before Jason's voice breaks through the clouds, the accent of the keyboard accompaniment making the song even more gripping on the soul). There's a couple where I did nothing but sit back and marvel at the man's voice filling my ears: "Never Be The Same" and "Coming Home"; again, the toned-down production (the simple drum 'n bass arrangement of the former, in particular) allows for his voice to be crystal clear above everything else and for only him to be the star of the show. Of course, I had my moments of electronic synthpop bliss as I listened to "Wanted To Play" (never mind Jason's angst in delivering the words of heartache, telling his lover that playtime is over now that he's hip to the games being played; the suspenseful sound and the beat are awesome!) and "Feel The Music" (now this one is a dance lover's delight with so much going on with the multi-instrumental textures and such attacking the ears from every angle imaginable). So yes, I really enjoyed my first ever go-round with Jason's 2000 debut because, as far as music goes, it truly is 'the real thing':

1. The Real Thing
2. If You Want It
3. Return To Love
4. Never Be The Same
5. Like I Think About You
6. Coming Home
7. What Took You So Long?
8. Wanted To Play
9. Feel The Music
10. Nothing To Hide

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