John Paul has had his fair share of accolades over the years. Whether it was a nine-week reign at the top of the Portland Phoenix local-artist sales charts in his old band, Stillview or another of his old acts (The Posters) getting the Got Milk-campaignâ€™s stamp of approval in 2004, Paul has captured the attention of anyone that has had the chance to listen in. â€œBelmont Boulevardâ€ marks the second solo album that Paul has released â€“ a sophomore effort that follows up on 2006â€™s â€œWinter Trekâ€ â€“ and shows an evolution of the styles and emotional content first approached on â€œTrekâ€.
â€œBelmont Boulevardâ€ begins with â€œ21â€, a track that bounces back and forth between the tortured vocals of a Conor Oberst and the bouncy, happy vocals of a Bryce Avary (The Rocket Summer). The grit that is present at the edges of â€œ21â€ is a subtle nod to acts like 1987-era Goo Goo Dolls, Husker Du, and The Replacements. Rather than resting on his laurels, Paul changes things up considerably for the next track on â€œBelmont Boulevardâ€, â€œSet Me Upâ€. â€œSet Me Upâ€ stands at the intersection of country music, Bryan Adams, and the Counting Crows. Each track on â€œBelmont Boulevardâ€ is pregnant with literally tens of influences, emotions, and meanings, meaning that tracks like â€œChameleonâ€ or â€œCardâ€ are the equivalent to a musical â€œUlyssesâ€ or â€œGravityâ€™s Rainbowâ€.
However, instead of bogging the disc down with heavy arrangements and dense lyrical arrangements, John Paul has made each song on â€œBelmont Boulevardâ€ accessible in a variety of ways. For example, the aforementioned â€œChameleonâ€ is a track that is a true toe-tapper, continuing the Replacements-like style of â€œ21â€, but the dense guitars and interplay that each instrument has with said guitar constitutes a puzzle that could conceivably require listeners fifteen or twenty plays to fully understand the magnitude of Paulâ€™s arrangements here. Later tracks do not slip in quality: â€œCome Down Girlâ€ is one of the best tracks on this disc. The idiosyncratic style of Paulâ€™s vocals here are hopeful at the same time as sad, smooth as silk while still containing a bit of John Rzeznik-like grit. The disc itself ends with â€œWay Too Soonâ€, a mourning type of track that has a double meaning. While the track is ostensibly talking about love, Paul has given the track the voice of the listener â€“ for anyone that has stuck with the disc up to this point, the end has truly came â€œWay Too Soonâ€.
Top Tracks: Sleepless, Card
John Paul â€“ Belmont Boulevard / 2008 Self / 12 Tracks / http://www.johnpaulsmusic.com /