ALBUM REVIEW – “As You Are” by Jason Lancaster

Having already achieved success with both Mayday Parade (who haven’t been the same since he left) and Go Radio, Jason Lancaster has little to prove going into his debut solo venture. Far closer in sound to the latter band, the album demonstrates that he’s long since found his niche in the music world and can craft feel-good melodic rock as well as anyone. The title of As You Are is strikingly prescient – it’s certainly not a record that will change the world, or even people’s perceptions of its creator, but that doesn’t stop it for being an enjoyable listen from a man who knows exactly what he’s doing.

Comfort is the overall feeling generated from this collection, as set out by short opener ‘Change’, on which Lancaster opines that he will never do so. The stirring strings segue nicely into ‘Growing Up’, one of the finer tunes with scorching lead guitar towards its conclusion that electrifies the jaunty number. The musical tapestries of the album are often intricate but don’t feel overblown, this providing the ideal backing to Lancaster’s distinctive impassioned vocal delivery. At times it can be overbearing and is in general an acquired taste, but his hearty voice often comes into its own here particularly on the driving rock of ‘Come Back’.

The album’s mid-section provides duel highlights in the form of ‘You ‘n Me’, a summery acoustic drift, and ‘Do I’ on which stately piano builds into an emphatic chorus. Much of the rest of As You Are suffers from being greatly similar to its best moments but without the same songwriting brilliance, and this repetitive nature lets the finest of it down. Lyrical themes venture from faith to romance, but across the spectrum can be clumsily deployed, ‘Climb Up to My Window’ for instance drowning in clichés. A near note-for-note cover of the classic ‘Hey Jude’, meanwhile, is a pointless and disappointing note to end on.

Such inherent problems don’t make the album a bad one, but do hold it back from achieving similar heights to some of Lancaster’s back catalogue. Moments shine through that reveal just how great a songwriter he can be, and these moments make As You Are very much worth a listen for fans of the bands he’s been in or folksy melodic rock in general.  Nevertheless, with artists like Frank Turner and Chuck Ragan leading the way in an increasingly fertile field, there’s no room for inconsistency at the top. A good opening step in a solo career, then, but not the bound that could have been.

Rating: 6 / 10

[Michael Bird]

‘Come Back’

 

Jason Lancaster

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