Secondhand Serenade - Hear Me Now

Album cover
Piano Pop
Glassnote Records
Secondhand Serenade
Hear Me Now
Secondhand Serenade - Hear Me Now Review rating:
3
User rating:
Average: 2.3 (3 votes)

2008 was the year of opportunity for Secondhand Serenade’s John Vesely. The singer-songwriter not only had the opportunity to release his brilliant sophomore album, A Twist In My Story, but he was able to take the pop charts by storm with the ballad “Fall For You.” The song’s soft, twinkling, piano line and heartfelt lyrics won Vesely fans nationwide. Fast forward two year, Vesely is now preparing to release his third outing, Hear Me Now. Unfortunately, while Vesely still finds himself capable of writing the ballads he has become known for, the album seems to lack the unbridled emotion that his previous works were covered in.

The album begins with “Distance,” a song that is by all means stereotypical of Secondhand Serenade up to this point. From the soft piano intro, to lyrics such as “My eyes feel like they’re bleeding/But they’re just crying,” to the soaring chorus, there is little that takes the listener by surprise. The same can be said for lead single “Something More,” a song that, unfortunately, has little more than the Vesely’s standard balladry. However, Vesely then takes the listener by surprise with a pair of more upbeat attempts at arena rock, “Stay Away,” and “You And I.” Unfortunately, the singer’s clichéd lyrics and heart-on-sleeve voice seem to have less sway when not paired with twinkling piano. However, after a pair of less-than-successful tracks, the album picks up with “Is There Anybody Out There,” which captures all that was good about A Twist In My Story and channels it into a solid 3 minutes and 42 seconds that makes up the album’s finest moment. And so the record continues, alternating between predictable ballads (“Reach For The Sky,” “Only Hope,” “World Turns”), and failed attempts at arena rock (“So Long,” “Nightmares”), before ending with “Hear Me Now,” a duet with Automatic Loveletter’s Juliet Simms that winds up being one of the record’s best tracks.

However, the most prominent flaw of the record is that Vesely’s musings no longer seem genuine. It may be the fact that he’s happily married and can find little other fodder for his predictable ballads, but even with his naturally plaintive voice, many of the songs on this record seem forced. This, however, is not likely to stop at least one of these eleven tracks from topping the Top 40 Charts the way “Fall For You” did two yeas earlier.

All in all, Hear Me Now is not a terrible record. While some of Vesely’s tracks are the result of failed experiments, and many others are both forced and predictable, most of the tracks are still enjoyable enough for the both the masses and the Top 40 charts. The future is as bright as ever for John Vesely, let’s just hope that the next time he releases an album, it will be a bit more honest, and a lot less forced.

1. Distance
2. Something More
3. Stay Away
4. You And I
5. Is Anybody Out There
6. Reach For The Sky
7. Only Hope
8. So Long
9. The World Turns
10. Nightmares
11. Hear Me Now

Secondhand Serenade is a one man band from Menlo Park, California. John Vesely, 28, sings and plays guitar and piano. His music is characterized by multitrack recording so he can create the sound of a band by himself. He uses multitrack recording to create vocal harmonies, and a lead acoustic guitar over strummed chords.

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