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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Secondhand Serenade - Hear Me Now

Secondhand Serenade - Hear Me Now
2010, Glassnote Entertainment Group/ILG

Secondhand Serenade had a nice run with their sophomore album, A Twist In My Story, which spawned the Top-10 single "Fall For You". Not one to rest in the balm of success, principal songwriter John Vesely dove deeper into man's metaphysical understanding of his existence for Secondhand Serenade's third album, Hear Me Now. While not a departure from past sounds, Hear Me Now marks a leap forward for Secondhand Serenade in terms of songwriting depth and finesse.

Hear Me Now is an exercise in patience. Don't get me wrong, Secondhand Serenade have created an album that's likely to sell like hotcakes. The pure radio-feel of the album could spawn a number of hits with the right break. The difficulty is that so many bands play in this field that it's hard to get that break. Secondhand Serenade are capable of writing a bonafide pop gem or two, and have a great mix of lead and harmony vocals to drive the songs, but much of the material here is so cookie-cutter that the album itself becomes bland.

Secondhand Serenade opens with a gem. "Distance" is a big melodic rock ballad about missing the one you love with a sparkling melody and a low-key pop sensibility that stands out in a crowd. It's easily the best song on the album and an easy-to-understand pick for the lead position. Thereafter things become rote, with Secondhand Serenade going through the motions of constructing radio-ready pop songs that sound an awful lot like each other and like a thousand other bands trying to become one of the magic twelve per hour on Top-40 radio. If you last long enough into Hear Me Now you'll find one more gem, the vibrant pop/rock of "So Long" is so catchy and without pretense that it will stick with you. Unfortunately it’s the last sign of real personality to be seen/heard from Secondhand Serenade.

Don't misunderstand; Secondhand Serenade has a lot going for himself. John Vesely has the sort of voice that can carry a band to the top of the charts repeatedly, the vocal harmonies are strong. There's also nothing on Hear Me Now to suggest that Secondhand Serenade is anything less than a highly competent musician. Hear Me Now simply plays as a cynical attempt at crafting songs solely for the purpose of making in on Top-40 radio. There's nothing wrong with that pursuit, but Secondhand Serenade fail to distinguish them when they very much have the talent to do so. The two bright spots, "Distance" and "So Long" suggest there's a lot more to Secondhand Serenade than Hear Me Now shows.

Rating: 2 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Secondhand Serenade from or   Hear Me Now is available from as a CD or Download.  The album is also available from iTunes.

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