I must be crazy. I’ve been darting around the Internet this afternoon, checking out other critic’s reviews of the new self-titled Shimmer CD, and mine seems to be the lone opinion. All of the reviews so far praise this record to Jah, but my impression is that this was nothing more than a mediocre project at best.
Perhaps my criteria for a successful album are just different. What I look for is originality, good songwriting, fine production values, and instrumentation that tells as much of a story as the lyricist/vocalist does. On Shimmer, vocalist/lyricist/guitarist Skip Peri gets high marks for songwriting, but incompletes for his other duties. I was bothered by Peri’s vocals and singing style, which are very similar to those of Lenny Kravitz and to a lesser extent, George Michael. Sounding like your predecessors is not a crime, unless you’re deliberately following every nuance of other admired vocalists. This might make for a fun evening in the karaoke bar, but it’s not a terribly professional approach in the big show. The funny thing is, Peri has a really fine voice and if he can develop his own chops, I think he’ll find a lot more freedom interpreting his lyrics and some more range.
While Peri may want to think about how to style his own songs, he may also want to seriously think about his guitar work and compositional skills. Every song — I mean every song — has the same choppy chord work. Yes Skip, I get it. You can play both major and minor chords over and over again. This is really a shame because Peri’s songwriting is filled with wonderful hooks, superbly crafted lines and almost painfully introspective observations. Each of these lyrical elements deserves an equally reactive musical counterpoint to compound the feeling you want to convey.