The following was originally published in our Melody Makers section.
Review by Keavin Wiggins
New Jersey, which gave us Bruce Springsteen
and Bon Jovi, has another notable native son who has had more than his
fair share of critical praise. I’m talking about Jimmy Gnecco, the man
behind the band Ours, whose second full length album, “Precious,” was released
earlier this month on DreamWorks Records.
Let’s get this out in the open, right
here at the beginning; I’m one of those who consider Gnecco a brilliant
songwriter and singer. He has an unmistakable ear for crafting unforgettable
melodies and also providing music with a lot of passion and power. Vocally,
you will often hear comparisons drawn between Gnecco and the late Jeff
Buckley (who in fact has been accused of co-opting Jay Buchanan – you’ll
hear more about him in ’03). There is a striking similarity between Buckley
and Gnecco, especially on the slower tracks from Ours, but they really
come from different places musically and that sets them apart from each
other. That being said, Gnecco is one of the best vocalists on the
scene at the moment. He has an unbelievable range that he fully utilizes,
but where it could come off like he is showing off his talent, his vocal
gymnastics instead fit right in character with the music.
There are some slower songs on this disc
that are real showcases for Gnecco’s vocals, and yes they do strike a similar
chord as Buckley’s music, but for the most part Ours rocks on the majority
of the tracks on “Precious,” so the Buckley comparisons end there. In fact,
this album falls somewhere between the likes of Radiohead and Vast, with
a retro leaning. On the rockier numbers, Gnecco sounds a lot like another
Orange County native, Wonderlove’s Chris Paul Overall, another stellar
vocalist who is primed to hit the big time.
This is one of those albums where you have
to listen to it several times to fully recognize its brilliance. True,
it grabs your attention the first time through, but there is so much depth
to the music here that you discover additional subtle nuances with each
This album goes against the conventional
wisdom that major labels are afraid to release music with substance in
this day and age. Yes, for the most part, label’s take the easy road and
fill the airwaves and charts with cookie-cutter--flash in the pan acts,
but this album goes quite a long way in restoring my faith that there are
indeed some A&R types out there scouting for exceptional music that
can elevate the music scene to a level of excellence above the lackluster
shallowness of the current mainstream. You may have to look a little
harder for the good stuff these days, but it is out there and “Precious”
fits the bill nicely.
If you haven't figured it out by now, I'll
break it down for you; this album is a definite highlight of 2002 and should
please even the most selective audiophile.