Album Review by: Andrea Guy
Connecticut native, Jim Fusco delivers his eleventh album Those Around Us for our listening pleasure. Fusco sites bands like The Beach Boys, The Beatles and The Monkees as influences. It is easy to hear how these bands have helped to shape his songwriting. Jim's music has a distinct 60s pop vibe.
While it is easy to hear the influence of these classic artists in Jim's music, particularly in the harmonies, the sound is all his own. What he does share with these artists is the ability to craft a pop tune that sticks with the listener, be it an upbeat, get your feet moving song or a slow, cuddle up with someone you love, ballad.
On the ballad front, there's "Helpless" which is like a mash-up of the Bacharach and David lounge sound with Beach Boys harmonies. Those Beach Boys harmonies figure in greatly on this album. If you are going to draw from a sound of the 60s, you can't go wrong with that. The album's closing track "How Are You Feeling Tonight?" really has that signature Beach Boys sound, so much so, that you might think you are listening to them.
Fun pop songs are what Jim does best. Take "Anything For Love," it has a great guitar riff and again, harmonies. This song brings back the innocence that is lacking in most pop music. "Follow You Home" is another one. These three and a half minute songs are reminders of how fun music can be.
Jim's music is all about harmony. It is what sets his songs apart from the rest. It is what draws the listener in.
You can call Jim's music power pop or you can call it retro pop. The influence and sound of the 60s bands puts his music in both subgenres, but why classify? What you have with Jim's music is timeless pop and we can always use more of that. Songs like "Don't Give Up" and "In Your Head" sound like classics already.
Jim is a versatile songwriter, but even more than that, he's a versatile and talented musician, playing all the instruments on most songs, with the exception of drums on "Opportunities," "Anything For Love" and "In Your Head," which are handled by his brother, Mike Fusco and the hand claps on "Choose Your Words (Carefully)" are done by his wife, Becky. That's pretty impressive and considering Those Around Us has as much polish, if not more, than most albums you'll hear on the radio. "Look Around" features Jim playing a lap steel guitar, a new instrument to add to his unique sound. This album also features a Wurlitzer 200A electric piano. That's not an instrument you hear much about these days. But it is things like this that make the songs come to life.
Listening to Those Around Us is refreshing. It is pop music that is fun, fresh and exciting. Jim Fusco has a day job, but you'll want him to quit it after listening to Those Around Us, because you'll want him to concentrate on getting another album out ASAP, not that doing that is a problem for him, this is his eleventh full length!
You may not have heard of Jim Fusco before listening to Those Around Us but after you have, you'll want to listen to him more and more. Thankfully, he's put out an album a year, since 2001 with an exception of his most recent release. There's a little over 2 years between Halfway There and Those Around Us. Fans will surely agree, two years is too long to wait between albums. But don't worry about waiting now, put Those Around Us in your CD player or iPod and crank the volume (well maybe not in your iPod) and enjoy twelve finely crafted pop songs. This is music to make your ears happy!
Genre: Power Pop
Sounds Like: The Beach Boys
Buy: CD Baby
Released: Jan 2012