Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Jump Starts - Ready, Set, Go

The ever talented singer song-writer Justin Johnson (Pretty Little Empire) is at it again with his new project, Jump Starts. He is joined by Sarah Ross (Paper Dolls) who plays drums, claps and sings. By deductive reasoning this should be a great album. Pretty Little Empire have made my most listened to albums of the last 2 years and Paper Dolls recently released an album I had on repeat, I loved it so much. Well, this album is every bit as good as I would have guessed.  Ready, Set Go hearkens back to the 1950's and pays an astute homage to the likes of Buddy Holley and Eddie Cochran. Justin and Sarah add touches of Americana and even a bit of 80's pop sensibility with the way the chorus is repeated as Justin sings the lead over it to make these sparkling pop songs that feature unconventional structures at times. 

The vocal mix on "It's Not Over" is stellar and showcases Justin's ease with melody.  The 50's influenced "Can You Help Me" call and response vocals with Justin's earnest pleading lends a level of urgency to the boy aching about a girl sentiment.  "Come Home Come Home" would probably be the radio lead single from this collection of songs. Just the right vocal mix coupled with the little jazz shuffle of Sarah's on drums.

Sarah's loose sounding percussion is the perfect counterpoint to Justin's precise songwriting and tight melodies. I am fortunate to have heard some of these songs in their original form as i-phone demos Justin made with the phone in the bathroom sink. In this Jump Starts form these songs manage to vary by the song structure as well as an ever changing way that Justin and or Sarah sing the choruses. The production is kept sparse and puts a spotlight on the ridiculously talented melodic ears of Justin. I saw Jump Starts play in St. Louis a few months ago and they were every bit addictive live as on Ready Set Go. Justin and Sarah will have a album release show this Sat June 18th at Jefferson Warehouse (St. Louis) with a really cool band Blood Pony (their last show as a band).