Jason Reeves’ "Heartache" Is A Truly "Magnificent" Debut

Releasing a new CD on the same day that the highly anticipated new Jonas Brothers album comes out is not necessarily the most intelligent marketing strategy. It’s similar to how other movies attempting to duke it out for #1 were released the same weekend as “The Dark Knight” earlier this summer. The difference, however, lays in the fact that although “The Dark Knight” broke box office records, there were still a significant amount of people who weren’t in the mood for the caped crusader, and instead opted to dance along in the aisles of theaters screening “Mamma Mia.” The same goes for the release of “The Magnificent Adventures of Heartache,” the debut album by singer/songwriter Jason Reeves. While the record is by no means going to generate the same amount of iTunes downloads as the Jonas Brothers will, the people who will be choosing to a go different route and actually listen to real music rather than talentless whiny bubblegum pop will surely be picking up this album.

With his singer/songwriter appeal and radio-friendly hooks, Reeves could very easily be on track to being the next Gavin DeGraw. To be completely honest, when I first read about Reeves I was a little bit skeptical to hear his music. The reason being he’s always being cited as the co-writer of ten tracks on Colbie Caillat’s album “Coco,” including the song “Bubbly,” one of the most painfully cheesy and vomit-inducing love songs of recent memory. With lyrics such as “what am I gonna say when you make me feel this way, I just mmmmm …,” I was apprehensive to listen to an album by someone who prided themselves on said songwriting. After my first listen of his record, however, I’ll be the first to admit that I was completely wrong to judge.

Maybe Reeves held out on Caillat to save music for his own album because his songwriting is nearly flawless. Top that with his lush melodies and soothing vocals, and not only does he completely trump Caillat, but he puts her entire album to shame. The album opens with “Someone Somewhere,” a mid-tempo song with feel good lyrics and guitar tabs that will make you sit and bop your head along to the music without even noticing you’re doing it. It’s a cute song that could very easily be heard in the last ten minutes of a chick flick when the couple realizes how much they love one another. Expect to see the song on at least one such soundtrack by this time next year.

With its’ acoustic upbeat melody, the next track, “Happy Accident,” sounds like a song that was accidentally left off John Mayer’s “Room For Squares” album. It fuses the perfect elements of pop and folk to create a lovely little song about fate. The track is then followed by “You In A Song,” a very Ryan Cabrera-esque song that shows off how much of a charmer Reeves can be. It’s not hard to picture him standing with his guitar singing the song to a girl he wants to win over.

While the album begins with optimism and romance, those are certainly not the themes of the entire record. “Just Friends” for instance, finds Reeves lamenting about unrequited love and sings that “those two words are bullets in my chest.” Similarly, “Gasoline” shows a side of Reeves that is not previously seen on the record. Instead of the quirky poetics of most of his previous lyrics, the track shows an exposed and bitterly vengeful man whose heart was completely broken. The song opens with the lyrics “She takes a drink, she’s had a few, she wants not to feel guilty. Empties the glass and shakes her ass, forgets that she is filthy. She knows the game, they’re all the same, she’s gonna use her body. She strikes a match as she is covering my heart with gasoline, and I’m going down much faster than anything I’ve ever seen. Gasoline, and she’s a heartless bitch telling me to keep my mouth clean.” Not only is this the angriest and most emotionally charged song on the album, it is also the most instrumentally heavy.

When I finished listening to the record, there was one song in particular that I wanted to go back to and hear again just because of how much it stood out. “The Fragrant Taste Of Rain” showcases Reeves doing his best Leonard Cohen impression by alternating spoken word with singing. Clocking in at less than two minutes, this experimental track has him reciting his most poetically vivid and well-written lyrics to powerful piano chords that simultaneously crescendo with his voice. The song builds until it nearly explodes, and then slowly dwindles down until there is no music left and Reeves is left with practically nothing but a whisper.

Just how the album began with the radio-friendly “Someone Somewhere,” it concludes with “The End,” a song that can very easily be Reeves’ ticket to stardom. A beautiful ballad in every possible way, the song ties the entire record together making both of the album’s bookends stellar pieces. In it, Reeves successfully pushes himself vocally in ways that he does not do in the previous tracks, which usually consisted of just him, a guitar, drums, and faint hints of piano. In this entirely piano-driven ballad, however, his hopeful lyrics take him to a brand new level of falsetto with a big band feel, while still incorporating the raw sounds of the record as a whole. He is able to demonstrate his abilities as a multi-talented musician by applying compound layers to the song, leaving you wanting to go back and listen to the buildup of this incredible track all over again.

At only twenty-three years old, Iowan Jason Reeves has managed to create a debut album that not only shines from his intelligent and honest lyrics, but an album that almost anyone can relate to in one way or another. His musical versatility is apparent in the different style of so many of the tracks, yet he manages to keep his own unique trademark sound intact and present throughout. Reeves may not be a household name, but he’s definitely a mark on the musical map that’s not going to fade away anytime soon.

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