Posted on: March 1, 2008 Posted by: James McQuiston Comments: 0

John Amen – Ridiculous Empire / 2007 Self / 10 Tracks / /

After seeing the front of the cover of “Ridiculous Empire”, I was expecting something related to punk, something angry, and something that looked to change things. I was right, but on the last count. The style of music that John Amen plays on his “Ridiculous Empire” plays on the protest music of the sixties. “Harbingers and Alcohol”, the first track on the disc, places together piano and guitars while the meandering vocals recall Bob Dylan and Neil Young.

The inclusion of a secondary set of vocals is what puts the track into a league all its own; it is as catchy of a track as anything that has previously came out in that genre. The singer-songwriter style first found on “Harbingers and Alcohol” adds a little bit of an alt-country sound to the mix, and shows listeners Amen’s storytelling skills.  “One of These Days” is one of the many high spots on this CD, as the Santana-like guitar work gives the song a momentum that does not give up. The vocals are similarly energetic, and the vocals continue to settle down into a Neil Young type of influence.

Coming into a chorus that is infectious as all get out, Amen has the ability to really garner attention. It is very possible that Amen could even conceivably crossover to the adult contemporary or rock charts with this track; while the song plays on earlier genres, the fury and energy that he brings to the table is far above anything else out on the market. While there is a much more folk-influenced approach to “Takin’ It As It Comes”, the same energy and vibrancy that was a hallmark of “One of These Days” is present. On “Ridiculous Empire”, John Amen has crafted an album that is solid from “Harbingers and Alcohol” all the way to “St. Charles Street”. Amen touches on a panoply of different influences and musical styles, and it is this wide-reaching style that will ensure that fans of all genres can find something that they like on the disc. Without anything in the way of weak tracks, “Ridiculous Empire” is of that caliber where individuals will continually play the disc even months after the first few listens to the disc. I believe that the follow-up to “Ridiculous Empire” will be even stronger than this disc; it will be hard for Amen to top the efforts on this album, but he has to talent to do so.

Top Tracks: Love Song #52, Madagascar

Rating: 7.1/10

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