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Monday, March 8, 2010

Review: Justyna Kelley - Over The Moon

Justyna Kelley - Over The Moon
2010, Iconique Music Group

Justyna Kelley grew up in Nashville, in a household where jam sessions were as much a part of family play time as anything else. Kelley appears to have been groomed for a career in music, but it's her passion for music that makes her special. Kelley's debut album, Over The Moon, features the sort of Country/Pop/Adult Contemporary crossover appeal you'd expect from Carrie Underwood, Shania Twain or Faith Hill. Produced by David Kershenbaum (Joe Jackson, Tracy Chapman), Kevin Killen (U2, Peter Gabriel, Shawn Colvin) and Guy Eckstine (Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Jeff Lorber), Over The Moon features ten songs worth of smooth radio-friendly country/pop and rock.

Over The Moon opens with "Once In A While", a musical monologue from one who feels forgotten in a relationship. "Once In A While" is a classic modern country ballad; Kelley delivers the song with a grace and dignity that will surprise you. It's a great opening song that is likely to have mild radio success but will fit nicely into the wonderful world of licensing. "The One I Love" is a happy mid-tempo country/pop gem. This song could be a hit on either side of the Country/Pop divide, with a chorus that will get stuck in your brain and refuse to leave. Kelley has a cultured country alto voice that is appealing; just a hint of sultry attitude hidden behind a wall of sweetness that suggests "girl next door" qualities. "Pushover" finds Kelley drifting more into the realm of Rock N Roll in a kiss off song to a friend who isn't really. It's a song of strength, of standing up for yourself. Kelley's delivery is solid, but perhaps a bit short on the anger that runs through the song.

"Over The Moon" is full of the starlight and effervescence of new love. Kelley's smooth delivery can't diminish the utter joy this song conveys, and the sweet sound of her upper range perhaps makes the song even more endearing. This one could be a bonafide pop and country hit. "Shoulda Known" is the sort of generic Pop/Country that seems to do well on commercial radio but is quickly forgotten; a decent enough song but just not something that will stick with you. Kelley puts her pop shoes on for "Have You Seen Him?” combining elements of 1980's pop, rock and country for a solid tune with commercial legs. Kelley shines on the Diane Warren-penned "Life's Like That", navigating the soaring chorus with essential grace. Kelley says goodnight with "Emily", obsessing over her man's ex-girlfriend and whether she might still be on his mind. The song is an awkward closer, at best. I suspect it was included to show a different side of Justyna Kelley, but in the end it may have been more of a disservice to Kelley than anything else.

Justyna Kelley has a gorgeous voice, and reflects a poise and comfort on this recording that suggests a highly professional performer. Over The Moon suggests that no matter how pretty her voice may be, Kelley's isn't a powerful sound. This limits the range of material available to her, certainly, but not all of the material on Over The Moon was well chosen for her voice. Kelley can certainly deliver solid Pop tunes with appeal, and working in the circles she's in she's nearly guaranteed at least a modicum of success. Over The Moon has some strong moments, but never truly soars.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Justyna Kelley at or No full album is availble yet, but you can download individual tracks from Justyna Kelley on

1 comment:

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