Jason Knapp – In January – Album Review
There were two things that hit me when I was completing my first listen through Jason Knapp’s new album In January; the first was an instantly feeling of ‘man – this guys has listened to a lot of Todd Rundgren throughout his life,’ and the second was that I had been enjoying some severely skilled guitar playing as the final cut “Drivin” played out and I got ready to repeat it all over. Notably, on this particular track you’ll also hear backup vocals from another one of our guests in review, Vik Kapur of Race Against Fate…but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here…let’s rewind this back to the beginning…
Starting with “Love Is A Cold War” was an interesting choice when listening to it all through the ears of a repeat-listen. In many spots, this acoustically driven track echoes many of the grunge-era heroes with a lead verse from Jason sounding nearly like Chris Cornell from his Temple Of The Dog years…almost Alice In Chains throughout the harmonies in the track as well through their rich tones. As the follow-up “January” begins, you get a large sense of perhaps what a musical-chameleon Knapp might be here. This track is a solid combination and real snap into the album; you’ll find those Cornell tones mixing with a lighter pop feel, more along the lines of Dishwalla-meets-the-love-from-Chris-Robinson, David Baerwald or maybe even David Gray.
Hey. I’ve got an experiment for you…
As it comes to the third track “Farewell To Poems,” I’m curious to know if you can all feel a track like this the way that I do. The moment this song started, I absolutely knew this was going to be a standout for me. The opening chords are crystal-clear & astoundingly beautiful; this is a wonderfully-well-played song that really highlights Knapp’s ability to bring an idea to vibrant life. And he’s doing it all on his own with exception to the drums provided by Andy Clapson; whether it’s guitars, bass, keys, strings…all instrument arrangements seem to be perfectly placed and well-within Knapp’s wheelhouse and skillset.
Wait…what? He’s from our own backyard! Jason Knapp comes from Vancouver, BC? How have I NOT run into this talented songwriter somehow along our travels before I just don’t know! Man, this city makes amazing music EVERYWHERE…
I dig the playful vibe in the guitars of “Ghost Of You,” it honestly sounds like an incredibly fun song to play…and if you listen closely, there’s some pretty intricate musicality being displayed on this track. Again finding his way into Alice In Chains-ish harmonies in the chorus, giving an interesting contrast to the lighter verse…there’s interesting change-ups all over this album…lots of variety in sonics…I’m digging the choices of Jason Knapp; there’s not only good songwriting here on In January – it’s completely wise songwriting.
I personally also really dig just how many places Knapp takes us through his vocals. There’s no one-note-wonder aspect of this man; and much like Cornell, he’s about 1000 times more hit than he’ll ever be missing. “Hiway Of Regret” is a great example of Knapp’s power to hold his tone. Extremely focused on this track, he’s delivering at an absolute maximum here with incredible results. Again, the change-ups in this track make it musically stand out; around the three & a half minute mark this track finds…like…it’s TENTH gear and changes beautifully yet again.
Bringing us to “Bitter.” I hope I can write a song…just ONE song in my life…THIS good one day. A simple, but extremely full acoustic track…Knapp is left to his own devices here on this song and it works incredibly well. Perfectly recorded and an immaculate performance to match; you can’t hear a track like this and not realize the overall potential that a songwriter like this could rise to. Taking us into yet another one of his talents – Knapp grabs the harmonica in this one in perfect accompaniment. For those of you out there right now digging on City And Colour – “Bitter” will definitely be a huge hit with you.
As “Drivin’” finishes off In January with some real pop-rock flair & style; this hook-laden track is sure to stick in your mind and leave a lasting impression. The trade-off between Jason Knapp & Vik Kapur (Morning Fame/Race Against Fate) works fantastically well; they’ve both got such different styles but they’ve come together extremely well here in this final track. As stand out as ANY vocalist might be…I don’t know if any one voice, or voices for that matter, could pierce my love of the guitars on this tune…they’re just pure fun and pure awesome.
Overall, these seven tightly-written songs definitely make for a shining example of the musical-palette of a very well-rounded musician that I’ll always want to hear more music from in the future.
Find Jason Knapp’s album In January at: http://jasonknapp.bandcamp.com/
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