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CD Review: Jean – On

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On is the debut release from the Latin singer/songwriter Jean. It’s an interesting and laid-back mix of Latin jazz, salsa, and R&B. Even when he is spreading his wings a bit and dabbling in some harder rap sounds, the overall theme is warm, soulful, and relaxing. On will hit stores’ shelves May 9.

The CD opens with “Duele.” Presented in Spanish, it has a yearning feel and a classic jazz sound with just a dash of a mild salsa. Jean has a longing sound to his voice and makes an emotional plea, whatever it might be. The tone is immediately set and it stays constant throughout the 11 tracks, no matter what language he’s singing in. It is the perfect background CD to throw in the player when you want to kick back and relax.

“Spanish Holiday” is the track I was thinking of when I mentioned rap influences, but once you get beyond the rhythmic spoken first verse, the rest of the track is beautiful and very melodic. The street feel quickly changes back to the light jazz or adult contemporary pop feel that is ever present on the CD. Oddly, “Spanish Holiday” is one of the few songs performed in English.

The first single, “Juegas Con Fuego,” begins with an interesting string arrangement before giving way to the salsa beat. On the CD the song is performed in Spanish but the single was released in English (“Playing With Fire”), as well as a Spanglish, an instrumental, and acoustic versions (in both Spanish and English). It has quite a danceable beat, and I’m sure the instrumental is a real treat. There are so many polished layers to the instrumentation, I’m having a hard time imagining the acoustic versions but if the sound on the album is any indication, I’m sure it is an appealing version as well.

Growing up in Orlando, Florida, Jean was raised in a musical household. His mother was a singer and key member of the Puerto Rican choir, Viva La Gente. His grandfather played the trumpet and his father had an expressed appreciation for Latin Jazz. Influenced by his musical surroundings, he was always interested in music beginning with sounds like Boyz to Men and New Edition and later expanding his tastes to the likes of Bob Marley, Nirvana, and Queen.

I can hear influences from all of the aforementioned artists in Jean’s style, but what he does with it is unique. It’s an enjoyable album, especially if you are a fan of jazz or soulful R & B. It has just enough of the modern sounds to be appealing to those who like adult contemporary pop.

An ecard is available.

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About Connie Phillips