If this is the beginning again, it’s a very good place to start.
Philadelphia native Scholz has a big voice and the production that Jonathan Wilson brings to the album wraps that voice in some stunning production that definitely has its eye on a commercial market beyond the stereotypical singer songwriter oeuvre.
Opening with a stately hymn ‘Happy Birthday’ that builds and builds to a shimmering crescendo, the album starts on a high plain which it seemingly, curiously, follows with the single, the poppy, lyric heavy ‘Talk to Me’ until the track unfurls on the cusp of a lovely guitar solo to a full on climax elevating to the previously set high bar. ‘Tired/Sad’ is a by the numbers ballad that is lifted by Scholz’s voice and the production touches of organ and especially by avoiding ‘the big ending’.
There is a delicacy to Scholz’s delivery when not heading towards a huge chorus ‘Streetlights’ has a cut glass clarity and ‘Strength Hope You’ a vulnerability. These qualities are occasionally in danger of being airbrushed by some of the production – I blame the executive producers! How many producers does a disc need? If you have Jonathan Wilson who the hell else do you need? However, it may just be JW aiming for that commercial gloss and hitting the target precisely.
The album closer is another highpoint, ‘Holy Man’ having a gossamer vocal that floats about the melody as the track gains momentum at once strong and fragile. Lovely stuff. Recommended for those who like their smooth sounding West Coast chanteuses.
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