Sounds like … acoustic pop and folk reminiscent of John Mayer, Sting, Matt Wertz, and Dave Barnes.
At a glance … the title just doesn't do justice for Okay, a stellar independent album with smart Christian songwriting and superb musicianship.
Long before John Mayer's on-again-off-again relationship with Jessica Simpson was tabloid fodder in US Weekly, Mayer recorded an album called Room For Squares that I couldn't take out of my CD player for the better part of two years. And naturally, after someone as buzz-worthy as Mayer hit the scene, a slew of copycat acts followed and the term "thinking man's pop" was tossed around as carelessly as confetti at a birthday party. Diehard fans would elicit an impatient groan every time a new artist was compared to Mayer.
And then I heard Jeff Caylor's album Okay.
Like Mayer's work, the Colorado Springs native has a knack for witty wordplay, warmly complemented by unfussy, jangly acoustic pop.
But unlike Mayer's aw-shucks commentary typically dedicated to relationships gone wrong, Caylor digs deeper with thoughts on life, love, and the state of humanity. And if that sounds a shade too serious for your pop music tastes, rest assured his thoughtful, faith-based insights are very accessible and never too heavy-handed.
Memorable songs like "The Ballad of Jon Turner" and "Perspective" definitely provide food for thought—something that's very welcome in light of the average disposable pop song. Once you hear this well-crafted collection, it comes as little surprise that Elton John was one of Caylor's favorite songwriters growing up. Both have a knack for telling stories through song, and Caylor's emotive vocals make the storytelling all the more convincing, whether singing about life's trials (the funky "Pain Is a Megaphone") or the need for clarity from God ("Equilibrium").
Shying away from familiar Christian cliché s, spirituality is powerfully woven throughout, yet artfully understated. Thus the Anderson University alum cleverly examines the nuts and bolts of faith with "Maybe Tomorrow," while "I Didn't Think I'd See You Here Today" serves as a thoughtful reminder of God's love in all seasons of life.
Thinking man's pop? Sure, but Caylor's work doesn't just fit a label; it exemplifies the term. Okay is about as sophisticated and catchy as Room for Squares—plus it benefits additionally from stronger takeaway value.
For more information about Caylor, check out www.jeffcaylor.com.
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