Chris Moreno – Into the Sun
Album Review of Chris Moreno: Into the Sun
Matchbox 20. Chris Moreno‘s Into the Sun could be Matchbox 20’s new album. Stylistically, he mixes fast, slow, and soft strumming just like the alt-rock chart-toppers, peppering in catchy, hooky stretches that draw in the listener as if a deep secret or universal truth is about to be revealed. Just as compelling, Chris’ insistent, pleading, tuneful voice is so much like Rob Thomas’ I could easily confuse the two. The result is a disc full of easy-to-listen-to, moderately energetic, radio-ready songs that suggest Chris could be one hit movie song-placement away from the national consciousness.
First song “All I Need” has elements of Matchbox 20 (“3AM,” to be specific) with a bit of a Counting Crows (“Accidentally in Love”) vibe. Add a dash Hootie & the Blowfish and a bit of Nine Days (they of “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)”), and you’ve populated the neighborhood of Into the Sun, with perhaps Third Eye Blind or Semisonic living on the next block.
Chris’ voice is clear and strong while carrying a raw, emotional edge. You can hear him emotionally connect with his lyrics, and you fully believe he feels what he sings.
I have a lot of favorites on this disc. I like the way “Finally Free” soars. The sparse-feeling opening instrumentation and slow build in the sensitive “Try.” And the insistent “Forgiven,” with Chris’ voice almost breaking in emotion as it reaches a powerful near-scream; the track also features a cool little well-placed rock guitar bridge that brings what had been a hidden driving force in the song briefly to the fore.
I like the role the horn plays in “Turn the Page,” giving it a bit of a different flavor. Then album-closer “Closer to You” starts with some stylish guitar-picking before again laying Chris’ emotion bare as it builds to power.
This eight-song collection, Into the Sun, is a terrific introduction to a modern-day troubadour. Chris wears his ’90s and ’00s mainstream alt-rock influences on his sleeve, and the result is a timeless recording.
Looking ahead, I look forward to hearing more from Chris. And catching a live gig. This is versatile music that would sound its best acoustically or with a full band. Putting my producer hat on and looking toward his next album – and I’m not a producer, so I really just have this hat, but when I find a talented artist I like to think about how that artist might broaden their music’s reach while still remaining true to his or her trademark core sound – I’d love to hear him perform a romantic duet on his next disc with the right complementary female vocalist. And perhaps add a song or two that are piano-driven to showcase his voice in a different way. But Chris’ current release, Into the Sun, though it’s his debut album, is more than just a nice first step. It’s a quality rock album from an artist who has already arrived. Dude, it’s something special.