5/20/2015 - Review by: Frank Hill
The big guy with the big voice and the big win on the show American Idol. Caleb Johnson said he wanted to try and bring back something that has been missing on the American landscape--heavy, bluesy rock n roll.
"Testify" is AOR-friendly rock and really, every classic rock radio station across the nation could play something from this. Without label support though, they haven't been...but they could because there's no real filler here. Alas, there's no real mega-rockstar killer number either.
With a leaning toward Southern Rock that's more Shinedown/Black Crows than Skynyrd, "Save Me" just dips it's toes in the swamp. The title track "Testify" may not convert all the masses, but it gets the church feet moving. "Let Me In" is the most complex of the bunch encroaching into modern Aerosmith territory with some backing horns. "As Long As You Love Me", written by The Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins, is angst-less and a load of melodic fun. The big winners here are the formulaic and pleasant ballads, "Only One" and "Change", which put his strong vocal delivery more front and center.
Created with a strike-while-the-iron is hot mentality, it's a decent establishment record with broad strokes of writing, production, and creativity. "Most of these songs we wrote in half a day, because we were going so quickly", says Johnson. More appealing than it is deep, Caleb's debut isn't going to revitalize the stagnant U.S. classic rock radio market. If he wants to be a superstar with the visceral appeal of the icons he covered on the AI show, he might have to slow down and dig further down in the musical well for his own "Still of the Night", "Welcome to the Jungle", or "Dazed and Confused". If we're in need of a hard rock savior, then he'll need to push back with more weight to smash through our entropy.
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