Reviews:: Ted Lennon

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Jack Johnson (hell, I even named my book after one of his songs). Sure his shows have become harder to enjoy with thousands upon thousands of drunken screaming fans singing along, but his music is still one of the staples I rely on. When I first started seeing Jack open for Ben Harper I was also turned onto several other artists like Jon Swift, White Buffalo, Mason Jennings, and Donovan Frankenreiter.

Well, here's another artist to add to the list - Ted Lennon. Ted and Jack went to school together and used to play music together and alternate sets at small shows in Santa Barbara. Imagine that? I had to sit through idiots playing terrible versions of No Rain and Wild World. Not quite the same as hearing Ted and Jack find their sound.

Ted's first album was recorded live in his house with no overdubs and the result is fantastic. Stripped down acoustic often suffers at the hands of overproduction, so deciding to keep this album simple helps you really get interested in the music. There are definite traces of the same styles that Jack has made famous (when I heard the first single, Face Down I actually thought it was a new Jack song) and at times he follows the same vocal patterns as Jack's work, but Ted isn't simply channeling another artist. Whereas Jack's songs are more upbeat, Ted's are understated and take a bonfire sing-along style. The slow ballad, Jesus is Underwater is a perfect example of the perfection of simplicity. The song is a simple riff, a simple xylophone outro, a simple train of thought. The result however, is something much bigger.

Enlisting the eukele/xylophone skills of his father, Ted's songs are more intimate and drift towards the style of the earlier Donovan records. Unfortunately, after the success of many of Ted's friends, this style is being abused by artsits trying to make it big. Studio tricks and loops are used instead of creativity and natural talent. By ignoring the former, you really get to see Ted's ability to write a great song. His work is honest and to quote Jack, "it's always pure."

Video:: Face Up
MP3:: Face Up (live with Jack Johnson)
MP3:: Jesus Underwater


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