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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Review: Tonye Christopher - I Dreamt I Was A Rock Star/Under Covers With John Mayer

Tonye Christopher - I Dreamt I Was A Rock Star/Under Covers With John Mayer
2009, Tonye Christopher

Rochester, NY native Chris Korokeyi is a computer engineer by day and aspiring pop star Tonye Christopher by night (and a few days, too). Blending R&B, Pop and Rock into a unique and interesting fusion, Christopher writes urban oriented songs with soaring guitar and a hardy vocal style more common in rock music. April, 2009 saw the release of two digital albums from Tonye Christopher, I Dreamt I Was A Rock Star, and a cover album, Under Covers With John Mayer. Distributed together, the two projects give a full accounting of the divergent influences and styles that make up Tonye Christopher's repertoire.

I Dreamt I Was A Rock Star opens with the title track, a paean to stardom and an expression of anxiety about the emptiness that might be found at the top. The song is quite interesting, although I noted that Christopher's voice has been electronically enhanced, both here and throughout the rest of the album. Dear Ms. Anniston (I Need You) is a love song/stalker anthem to the former Friends star, and fits in with Christopher's apparent obsession with pop culture. Kanye Komplex finds Christopher declaring himself the best thing in pop music, albeit in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. Likewise, Scarlet Fever is an ode to Scarlet Johansen. One of the more interesting songs on the album is One Night At The Hilton; exploring the guilt that follows a one night stand. Love Actually (To Me Your Are Perfect) is inspired by the film of the same name, and is a positive message to the women of the world ("You're perfect just the way you are / You're too pretty to dye your hair Hollywood blonde.") The pop references continue on Girls Like Halle Berry, one of the most musical compositions on the album. Ditto You Look Like Jessica Alba.

Under Covers With John Mayer opens with Waiting On The World To Change, a fair cover of the song with an urban bent. It’s on the Mayer material where Christopher appears weakest. It's impossible to tell what Christopher's true voice is like because it sounds like his voice has been altered throughout, but Christopher's tendency toward to slight pitch issues and wavering tone suggest that a fair amount of cleanup has been done. On his own material these issues aren't as readily apparent as Christopher is writing for himself, but vocal lines written for others expose these issues clearly. There are highlights here however; I liked the minimalist arrangement on Gravity. Christopher builds a musical bed here that suggests an almost hymn-like feel that works perfectly. Christopher also scores with his cover of Daughters. Stylistically this song is similar enough to be familiar and different enough to garner some attention, although the mix on the recording isn't very good. The album also includes covers of Your Body Is A Wonderland, Dreaming With A Broken Heart, Say and I Don't Trust Myself With Loving You, among others.

Tonye Christopher has definite talent as a producer, but the production values, particularly on Under Covers With John Mayer, are a bit sloppy. Some of the mixes presented here (particularly Daughters) sound incomplete or poorly mixed. Christopher's voice comes off as pleasant on both albums, although it’s very apparent that at the very least it’s been given strong electronic support, if not outright alteration. Most of the arrangements on I Dreamt I Was A Rock Star are pretty strong, with a distinctive style that mixes Rock, R&B, & Hip-Hop. Under Covers With John Mayer gets a much more canned sound, as if he didn't approach the cover album with the same conviction he did his own material. Tonye Christopher offers up some pleasant light listening on I Dreamt I Was A Rock Star. Under Covers With John Mayer is probably only going to appeal to diehard John Mayer fans.

I Dreamt I Was A Rock Star - 3 Stars (Out of 5)
Under Covers With John Mayer - 1.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Tonye Christopher at You can purchase a CD of I Dreamt I Was A Rockstar/Under Covers With John Mayer at Caf├ę, or you can get them as a download through iTunes.

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