At first listen, I thought I was listening to a John Mayer album by mistake. Mayer and Rice share an oddly similar voice, but I would characterize Rice’s as more rustic compared to the mushy Mayer. The opening track “Short Songs For Strings” is just instrumental music, which Rice uses to set the album’s mood.
The sound, for the most part, stays in the alternative genre; however, it does take snippets from other genres to create interesting blends of music. “Lady Memphis” is the result of an alternative and reggae blend while “Stay At Home” is the result of the band attempting to make music for a children’s educational/entertainment show. Rice shows that he can handle a ballad with “Behind The Frontlines” and proves that he can rock out with the “as alternative as it gets” tracks “Kiss Me Goodbye” and “Leave The Light On.”
Rice experiments with his sound. He ventures into Wallflowers territory with “So Sweet.” He even travels the alternative folk province of Billy Bragg (“Acrobat”) and the folk rock province of Nick Drake (“I Wouldn’t Miss It For The World”). There is a wide range of music on Trouble Is Real, which is a promising debut for Johnathan Rice.