Album Review of Jann Klose: In Tandem
Longtime Geoff Wilbur’s Music Blog favorite Jann Klose is a soft rock singer-songwriter. In old radio terminology, he’d be an adult contemporary staple with occasional pop crossover hits. In equally outdated music video parlance, he’d be in steady rotation on VH1 with his videos also finding some MTV airplay. You could drop him into any pop or rock festival line-up, and he’ll accumulate new admirers from a broad variety of fan bases. He’s a versatile, talented songwriter whose instantly recognizable, rich, comfortable voice has surprising range and carries an edge. And the songs on In Tandem carry a variety of emotions, depending on the song, though joy is the most infectious of the bunch.
I heard many of the songs on this disc during a very special stop on Jann’s 2018 tour in support of In Tandem, and as much as I like a live Jann Klose acoustic performance, the full studio treatment of these songs is outstanding.
One of the many collaboration highlights on this album include an inspired rhythmic, light, airy version of Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up” on which Jann is joined by Annie Haslam, their voices well-matched and almost entwined at times.
Aside from the collaboration with Haslam, most of the album was recorded in South Africa, where German-born Jann spent some of his childhood, and features a who’s who of noteworthy South African artists. For example, Tamara Dey joins Jann as co-writer and co-vocalist on “You and I (Cosmic Love),” a fun, light, soft-danceable, catchy number that recalls images of bell bottoms and free love. Karen Zoid joins Jann as writing/singing collaborator on “Pour the Champagne,” an upbeat tune whose rhythm combines with light guitar flourishes as the song’s successful hook, with a late-song key change sealing the deal. And RJ Benjamin is featured with Jann on the slow-building, introspective “Win This Fight,” which is built upon the continually increasing range and power of Jann’s voice throughout the song, including nailing some high notes at the end.
Of course, additional songwriting credits and supporting musicians for the project also hailed from South Africa, naturally, with the recording occurring there. In fact, many of the writing collaborations stemmed from a 2016 BMI songwriting camp Jann attended in Cape Town.
The album itself kicks off with “Love High,” a bright, uptempo number that deftly utilizes a few trademark tools from Jann’s vocal repertoire. At times smooth, high, and strong, and at others emotional and straining, the tempo and vocals served notice about the type of energy that could be expected across the remainder of the disc. Soft but uptempo, emotional yet cheerful with a breezy sound bed.
A couple of my other favorite songs on the album, potentially hit-worthy, are “Dear Mel” and “What It Is.” The warm energy of “Dear Mel” supports the reminiscing lyrics in this song about past friends. “What It Is,” meanwhile, thumps along, slowly building to an explosive, catchy chorus melody. While I’m listening to it, it’s my favorite song on the album, though for some reason “Dear Mel” has more of that particular earworm quality that causes it to return to memory randomly several hours or days later. (What’s up with that?!)
Of course, let’s not forget “Take Me 2 Forever,” a hip-shaking number with jangly guitar and a syncopated rhythmic percussion that’s memorably original.
And, finally, a song Jann wrote for his mother’s wedding, appearing twice on In Tandem. First, “Hochzeitslied” in its original German, and later “Wedding Song (Hochzeitslied English Version).” The latter closes the disc, with its restful warmth setting the listener down softly at the end of an album-long journey.
As always, Jann is a songwriter whose pop-friendly soft rock style and exceptional vocal range carry broad appeal. This recording, in which the always-present South African segment of his life journey is brought to the fore and explored musically, is a terrific addition to his catalog and would serve as a great introduction for new fans.
Since the Album
I’m still working my way through a writing backlog after a couple years largely away from writing, so it’s not surprising Jann has created more music since releasing In Tandem in 2018. Most recently, this spring Jann released a new single, “Pilot Light.”
Jann’s itinerary currently lists two upcoming shows this fall – in Glen Head, NY on Friday, November 20th, and in Brooklyn, NY on Saturday, November 21st. Details are on the “Shows” page of Jann’s website. Obviously, no one knows what this fall will bring, so check with the venues closer to the shows’ dates to make sure they don’t fall victim to the pandemic. And also check back to Jann’s website for additional dates as they’re added.