Tuesday, May 2, 2017

John San Juan - Smashed

Photo from John San Juan’s Facebook page.

John San Juan is a founding member of The Hushdrops, a Chicago-based trio known for artfully blending prog rock elements into power pop songs. He takes a more introspective approach on his solo debut Smashed, backed by fellow club veterans Anthony Illarde, Carolyn Engelmann, Jason Walker, and Rachel Drew. San Juan has crafted a series of exquisite melodies for this effort, and he weaves harder-edged instrumentation through some of the arrangements.

That more adventurous approach is evident on “Move It,” where the band breaks into an extended psychedelic jam session. “My Version Of Your Dream,” a good example of San Juan’s knack for clever wordplay, and “Look What You Made Me Sing” also have a more energetic feel. San Juan closes out what he has dubbed Act One of Smashed by drifting through various tempo shifts on “Why Aren’t You Dancing.”

“My Little Red Tape,” “Back For Less,” and “The Little Things” concern troubled relationships but have a deceptively breezy 1960s feel that’s augmented by layered vocals and keyboards. The acoustic setting for “I’m Going To Count To Three” and “Someone’s Birthday” helps to showcase San Juan’s engaging vocals. The fantasy world of “There’s A Place” proves to be a pleasant destination, and Smashed closes with the simple but elegant “You.”


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