Monday, December 14, 2009

REVIEW: Every Card I Have

Figured I'd keep the same approach as the last can check out the video review at the YouTube page and you can get a song by song rundown here at this site. Media cross-over, anyone?

This is a review of Jon Meyer's brand new, very cool project called Every Card I Have. If you watch the vlog review, you'll see how my circle of folks has overlapped with Jon's - I don't know him that well, but I do know that he's a phenomenal talent and I'm more than happy to promote his music.

Every Card I Have is a strong collection of tunes precisely produced and delivered. I've enjoyed listening through the project and it's been a very thought-provoking record with regard to songwriting and producing.

Track #1 ought to clue you in. The cool programming and nice electric piano let you know that this isn't just some acoustic player jam. The confessional nature of the song also makes it pretty clear that you're going to hear a writer who's prepared to reveal some stuff that he knows he needs to work on. Jon's music has a 'cinematic' quality to me - this tune sounds like the absolute perfect soundtrack for stage or screen.

As I mentioned in the vlog, I think this tune is the perfect 'single.' It's a great song of faithfulness. Christ followers are going to resonate with these concepts...songs celebrating this sort of unconditional, no-holds barred faithfulness can't help but remind us of the Creator.

This folk tune shines with a great chorus - "You move me like the words of my favorite song / You bruise me like a hit from a wrecking ball / You confuse me, is there anything at all that I could say to make you stay?" Acoustic, piano and banjo along with some nice reverb vocals give this one a haunting tint.

For me, this is the coolest song on the record. Maybe because he's singing about staying up late and writing songs? Again, strong percussion looping and the catchiest hook on the project (Jon's whoa-oh is pretty inspired here.)

This one goes about as country as the record can go...more confessional, broken-hearted pining here. This is one the guitar players will dig...dobro is pretty slick on this one. As we progress through the record, this tune marks an interesting point where we peel back the veil and get an honest view of a man making hard decisions to improve his life. Pretty important song for a person to sing.


Meyer shows his chops here. He comes at a pretty basic song idea - missing that special someone - but writes it so creatively. Tackling how much old memories linger, Jon enlists a female vocalist to take on verse 2. Don't know if Jon's got any desire to publish country songs, but this one could work.

This one surprised me...I expected a straight-forward "hold on" song, but this one turns into so much more. As the song builds, Meyer used the strife that we all face to paint a picture of our great need for redemption. This song may start small, but ends up as a huge statement of Jesus' redemption.

Even if this song was horrible (which is isn't,) I'd still love it because of the steel guitar. This one doesn't build as dynamically as the other songs, although the choir part at the end is a nice touch.

As the record draws to a close, Jon starts bringing the two themes of this record - confession and redemption - together. Whereas we've heard songs about his brokeness and other songs about the Father's faithfulness, the writer melds the two into this musical prayer. I'd love to hear this one on Christian radio - I think it's catchy enough and still has some depth that is often missing in CCM stuff.

My other favorite tune ends the record. I dig this from start to finish, the slow groove, the tasty slightly blues tinged guitar fills, the rhodes smooth! As I mentioned in the vlog, I really dig when a writer can take a simple idea and still make it fresh and valuable. From a songwriting point-of-view, this may be the most skillfull work on the project.


What Works:
There's a lot here that's good. Certainly production is a strong point. In fact, this is one of the more musically cohesive records I've hard in awhile. Seems as if Jon had a very clear picture of what this record needed to sound like upon starting out. Songwriting is, of course, another highlight. Jon's got poetic sense of lyrics that allows these very personal lyrics to still remain universal.

What Doesn't:
If there's anything that works against this record it's the various thematic approaches. There are quite obviously "girl songs" on this record. These heartbreak songs are very good, but on the whole, those sit a bit strange with more "Christian" song ideas. Personally, I'm not a fan strict labels for records, but I do think those distinctions can often help records sell or get attention they deserve.

I'd encourage you to head over to Jon's site and grab the record. Most of us know some of the best music these days is coming from the guys and gals who are out there doing music on their own. Here's a chance to support an independent artist who deserves the limelight.