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Friday, February 11, 2011

JD Pederson – It Seems Like Only Yesterday

JD Pederson – It Seems Like Only Yesterday
2010, JD Pederson
Every singer/songwriter is a sum of his or her influences.  For JD Pederson those influences are solid ones.  Whether it’s the San Francisco sound of Boz Scaggs and Tower Of Power, or the style of artists such as The Eagles, Jackson Browne and Van Morrison, Pederson has developed a strong personal style based in classic sounds.  What makes Pederson special is that he’s taken these roots and catalyzed them into something new and unpredictable.  It’s there in Pederson’s live shows; you never know what he might come up with next.    You’ll find the same feel to Pederson’s debut album, It Seems Like Only Yesterday.
Pederson opens with “We Go Way Back”, inhabiting the space between country and rock n roll with an easy-listening mien.  It’s a song of reminiscence with a nice melody, and shows off Pederson’s easy-going voice in style.  “My Favorite Sunset” is a vaguely saccharine ballad that captures a moment in song.  Pederson injects an island feel into the song, and in spite of the slightly trite feel you’ll leave with the impression that such things are born of true emotion rather than a cynical attempt to inspire feeling.  “Learn The Dance” is all about growing up and taking responsibility for yourself.  Pederson exhorts listeners to dig into life and take what it has to offer; an anthem to personal responsibility with a dose of carpe diem thrown in.
“Call Me” finds Pederson sounding a lot like Ezra Idlet of Trout Fishing In America.  It’s a down tempo love ballad that’s sorrowful, yet still somehow motivated by hope.  “Kiss & Tell” shows more energy; a catchy tune with a sense of mystery and remorse.  This is a sharp, clean arrangement with great guitar work that shows a slightly different dimension to Pederson’s songwriting.  “Welcome To The Party” is a musical dissertation on graft, politics, and the internal machinery that keeps the political process out of the hands of the people it represents.  The observational style of songwriting shown here displays sharp and incisive lyrics with plenty of wit in a funky, blues-rock arrangement.  “No Good For You” is a dirty blend of rock and blues that’s highly enjoyable.  It’s a classic story in the first person about a friend waiting in the wings for his friend’s girlfriend to her eyes his way.  More than that, he’s actively working to put himself into position to steal her away.  The guitar work here is as filthy-good as the premise, and the song is full of delicious piano licks and fills.
“Peace Of Mind” is a bit simplistic and plain, but features some great guitar work and a decent melody.  The sound here is a bit too inside of itself; wanting to explode and be larger than life, but never quite gets there.  “The Sound Of Goodbye” is a flat, Adult/Contemporary Ballad.  The song itself is decent, but the production here misses the boat.  The vocals are too low, the piano too high, and the guitar solo is too far out in front.  This sounds more like a patchwork of musical parts thrown together in a slipshod manner than a cohesive piece of songwriting.  Pederson closes with “Headed Home”, once again involving a mismatch in the production booth.  Pederson’s pleasant but soft-spoken voice gets lost in the mix. 
JD Pederson’s It Seems Like Only Yesterday lives up to the classic singer/songwriter mantle it bears across the first seven songs.  Pederson shows a competency in lyrics and arranging that places him above the pack.  His gift for melody and creating a story environment in his songs is notable, and at times he rises to the crest of brilliance.  The last three tracks seem more like filler, and are a disappointing epilogue to what is otherwise a very strong effort.  It Seems Like Only Yesterday certainly will give listeners motivation to see what JD Pederson does next.
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about J.D. Pederson at Seems Like Only Yesterday is available from as a CD or Download.  The album is also available from iTunes.

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