Jon McLaughlin’s Promising Promises Review: Thoughtful, Soulful Music

We’re in an interesting time for music. Thanks to technology, there’s so much that can be done. Yet there’s something to be said for an artist that eschews all that – that just sits down and sings his heart out with as little fanfare as possible. That’s how I’d describe Indiana native Jon McLaughlin.

McLaughlin’s new album, “Promising Promises,” is a remixed and updated version of last fall’s “Forever If Ever.” It contains 3 songs that weren’t on the earlier release (“The Atmosphere,” “These Crazy Times,” “Falling”) and thusly omits three songs that were (“A Little Too Hard (And A Little Too Fast),” “You Are What I’m Here For,” “I Brought This On Myself”).

So if you bought “Forever If Ever,” should you double-dip here? The three new songs are deliciously catchy, particularly “The Atmosphere,” which sunk its hook into my ear and stuck there for awhile. But thanks to digital music, you do (as of now) have the option of purchasing just the three new tracks on iTunes, which also offers acoustic versions of three songs and a video for lead single “Summer Is Over,” featuring Sara Bareilles.

If you didn’t pick up the previous album, though, or aren’t familiar with McLaughlin beyond his smash hit “So Close” from the Disney movie Enchanted, this is a CD to take a look at. His music is the art of music in its simplest format: an artist with a piano pouring himself into heartfelt lyrics and arrangements not swallowed up by production. In this age of Auto-Tune and flash over substance, it’s refreshing.

The standout for me remains “Maybe It’s Over,” the duet between McLaughlin and The Voice season one semifinalist Xenia Martinez. Their voices blend so well together in this ballad and I didn’t just understand the emotion they were singing about: I felt it, too. You should also give a look to “If Only I,” which McLaughlin told me in an interview last December was his favorite. Of the new material, it’s “The Atmosphere” that deserves a listen, although none of the tracks are without merit.

“Promising Promises” is another solid release for McLaughlin, who continues to write thoughtful, soulful music that is as perfect for a summer afternoon as it is for the end of a long day. If you’re looking for something new, be sure to give this one a listen.

You can also check out McLaughlin’s official website for more information. For more from Brittany Frederick, be sure to follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

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