I’m very happy and honoured to share with you a glowing review I recently received from the highly regarded music journalist, Annie Reuter.
So without further ado…
Kristian Jackson’s debut release, Blood Eyes Sunrise, demonstrates his immense talent. A versatile album, the Sydney based singer-songwriter flourishes during his emotional ballads and leaves his mark on the more upbeat, jazz infused numbers. Eleven tracks of heavy-hitting percussion, powerful vocals and striking musical accompaniment, Blood Eyes Sunrise has much to offer the listener. Never quite sure what he’ll do next, the LP remains exciting and captivating.
Blood Eyes Sunrise begins with soothing vocals accompanied by light piano and fitting percussion on album opener “Time Will Heal.” The driving beat blends well with delicate guitar strumming and his deep vocals. Soon after, aggressive percussion and his lively singing style join in with fast paced electric guitar. Singing about the hope of a second chance in a relationship, Jackson talks of moving on, a common theme throughout the 11-track release.
Next song, and title track, “Blood Eyes Sunrise” begins with a seductive percussion beat and an enticing piano part. An ear-grabbing combination, Jackson’s whispered vocals follow suit before wavering electric guitar is heard in the background. A steady beat throughout the track, the music soars and crescendos at the most opportune spots. A multi-instrumentalist, Jackson recorded vocals, guitars, piano, saxophone and additional features himself. With a killer guitar riff mid-track and an impressive piano interlude, the standout number showcases Jackson’s talent.
What first sounds like a ballad, Jackson picks up the pace on “Blood Eyes Sunrise.” Two minutes in, however, the emotion fueled ballad quickly turns into a full on rock number combined with Jackson’s high pitched, soaring vocals. With aggressive percussion and electric guitar after Jackson’s wavering vocals, the listener is pleasantly surprised.
“Set You Free” follows and grabs the listener’s attention with heavy hitting percussion before Jackson’s eased vocals enter. With a soaring saxophone feature mid-track that is reminiscent to that of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band member Clarence Clemons. Additional horn features three minutes in, provides a distinct Motown vibe. As a result, the upbeat number continues to impress with striking piano and Jackson’s energetic singing style.
Next track, “More Than This” follows suit with introspective and relatable lyrics. The song goes on to tell the tale of a woman searching for meaning in her life. Not content with her job or current relationship, Jackson begins to question her hunt for the “superficial and shallow world.” With striking piano, powerful harmonica, and energetic percussion features amid his deeper, yet eased singing style, Jackson once again demonstrates his versatility. An impressive, upbeat scat feature is apparent midway through and at the song’s close, and while there is no concrete resolution, the listener is left optimistic that the woman in the song figured it all out.
Never one to shy away from something new, Jackson’s “Run Away” slows the pace of the LP with delicate strokes of the piano and his soothing vocals. With a full orchestra showcased within the last two minutes of the song, Jackson proves he’s not the average singer-songwriter.
No doubt a hard track to follow, “Portrait” falls flat in comparison to the impressive “Run Away.” A light drum beat lulls the listener into a trance while Jackson’s masked vocals are hard to hear. While perfect for a lullaby, “Portrait” seems misplaced on the album.
Not all is lost, though. “See Your Face” picks things right back up with solid guitar and percussion interludes while the edgy “A Hundred Ways” captivates with a solid bass beat. Never quite sure what to expect next, Jackson continues to impress on the Billy Joel-esque “U Without Me.”
“Wonder Where” closes the LP with light acoustic guitar and Jackson’s familiar soothing vocals. Reflective, he ends his debut release similar to how it began. Wondering where a former love is and if it is possible to rekindle this relationship, the soft track leaves listeners wanting more.
With the goal to make interesting music, Jackson succeeds on his debut release, Blood Eyes Sunrise.
“There’s no reason why popular music can’t be both interesting and accessible. I’m trying to make music with enough depth to sustain the interest of the most discerning listener while simultaneously capturing the heart of a mass audience,” Jackson says.
Lucky for him, he accomplishes exactly this on Blood Eyes Sunrise, a solid first release.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Review by Annie Reuter
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