When everything is clicking for Jason Castro on his debut album he sounds great and fits snugly in the glove of the current boom in singer-songwriter sounds on pop radio. There is a sincere charm to his voice that is utterly disarming to the listener. The presence of the Espionage songwriting and production team, best known currently for work on Train's smash "Hey, Soul Sister," helps considerably in making the album sound contemporary. However, the album is so late, it has been almost two years since Jason Castro was on American Idol, it's hard to know if the audience is still primed to listen.
A Little Short and a Little Slight
The single "Let's Just Fall In Love Again" bursts with the joy of a blend between singer-songwriter and teen idol pop that defines slightly goofy, warm Jason Castro at his best. His version of Leonard Cohen's demonstrates that he can also handle serious material with a delicate touch. However, by the time you've worked your way through the eight tracks of the standard version of the album in just under 30 minutes, it all seems to zip by so quickly any impact is likely to fade with alarming speed. It's hard to understand why it took so long for the album to be put together when the result is such simple, basic pop songs. Jason Castro does sound good here and a clutch of songs have great melodies, but the album is very predictable. Many listeners will be left wishing he had tackled something a bit more challenging here and there even if the risk of failure was higher.
Top Tracks on 'Jason Castro'
- "Let's Just Fall In Love Again"
- "That's What I'm Here For"
- "You Can Always Come Home"
Searching For an Audience
The moments in which Jason Castro finds himself starting to veer off the happy, cheery singer-songwriter path here raises questions of what audience might most appreciate his music. "You Can Always Come Home" threatens to move in an Americana direction but doesn't quite get there. Jason Castro might sound more interesting and challenging in that arena. "Hallelujah" presents an adult interpretive singer clearly taking some cues from Jeff Buckley but with his own gentle, sensitive, slightly reedy touch. On the other hand "This Heart of Mine" sounds like singer-songwriter bubblegum. Is there an audience Jason Castro is attempting to appeal to, or his simply trying to cover all bases in eight songs?
Jason Castro Is Who He Is
Despite frustrations with the brevity of the album and questions about stylistic coherence, Jason Castro remains thoroughly charming through the sincerity of his style, look and approach to making music. He gives his audience a singular idiosyncratic approach which clearly arises from his heart. There is vocal skill here, and songs like "Let's Just Fall In Love Again" and "That's What I'm Here For" would sound great on the radio. Let's hope for Jason Castro that this first album performs well enough that we will get to hear a second volume in which he just might stretch and explore in and even more interesting, engaging fashion.
Released April 2010 by Atlantic Records.