Jon Mullane – Shine
Album Review of Jon Mullane: Shine
There’s a total ’80s rock vibe to Jon Mullane‘s Shine. That melodic, tuneful pop-rock that made the careers of singers like Rick Springfield, Starship’s Mickey Thomas, Billy Squier, and others of that era. Jon’s voice is medium-high; the songs are melodic and tuneful, mixing keyboards and guitars; the melodies soar, often almost cheesily. But here’s what’s often forgotten about the best of that genre, the reason it’s timeless. While catchy melodies are a prerequisite, the best vocalists, like Jon, have an emotional edge to their vocals, a connection between singer and song, that cause the tunes to really hit home.
Jon kicks Shine off with the catchy “My New American Girl.” Though I’m hesitant to abuse the Rick Springfield comparison, because Jon’s voice has only a passing resemblance to Rick’s, this song is energetically rather similar to Springfield’s “The American Girl” from his Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet album.
“Shine On Tonight” follows, its very eighties hand-claps punctuating the fun, energetic mid-tempo rocker.
And “Way Up” establishes the hopeful, sedatedly energetic tone of the album – mid-tempo and happy – as its bridges soar and its rock guitar and electronic-edged keyboardwork establish an upbeat energy that well suits Jon’s crisp-with-a-roughness, emotional voice.
Jon has found some recent critical success with another of my favorite songs on Shine. The video for single “Born Beautiful” was honored by the International Music and Entertainment Awards as 2016 Music Video of the Year. The song itself is a heartstring-tugging, emotional mid-tempo number that pops with soaring vocal and musical releases.
“Take Me Away” brings back the hand claps and energetic enthusiasm. Again with the soaring vocals; by now it’s apparent they’re a Jon Mullane staple, a well-honed calling card that distinguish the songs on this album as being uniquely and engagingly his.
Distorted guitar takes center stage on a couple late-album numbers worth mentioning. The energy and enthusiasm of “So Into U” and “Body Rock” are great eighties-flavored rock numbers that keep the energy going… and the body moving (or “rocking”), setting the listener up for the well-placed soft landing.
Indeed, the album closes with a second rendition of the powerful emotional ballad “Any Other Way.” If there’s a song on Shine that’ll make you cry, this is the one… both times. Even if you don’t listen to the lyrics, you’ll feel it from the gravel in Jon’s vocals and the way his voice cracks in the “emotional spots.” Great performance of a heartugger; classic way to end the disc.