A.J. Croce – Cantos (2006)
purchase this album (Amazon)
He started his career, with 1993’s A.J. Croce, as the obviously talented, yet musically undeveloped offspring of his late, lamented dad Jim; in the thirteen years since, he’s grown into an artist of uncommon depth and originality. His first three albums, consisting mainly of straight piano blues, were strong enough in their own right, but since releasing 2000’s Transit, Croce has veered off into increasingly Beatlesque pop territory. You’d think that a guy whose father made some of the most perfect folk-pop of the ’70s, and who made his bones on the blues, would sound a little out of place in this arena. But you’d be wrong.
Transit and its follow-up, 2004’s Adrian James Croce, had a lot going on in terms of production; Cantos strips back all those extra layers and focuses squarely on Croce’s vocals and piano. The results, though not always as instantly gratifying as his most recent releases, are never less than gratifying.
Croce’s lack of name recognition and market share is disheartening, to say the least; though he seems to be doing just fine on his own (Cantos, like Adrian James Croce, was released via Croce’s Seedling Records imprint), he shouldn’t have to. Labels should be lining up in the street to get a piece of talent like this — particularly talent with a famous last name — and kids all over the world should be memorizing his lyrics.
Well. That may never happen, but you can help make the world a better place by giving Croce’s music a listen. Start off with “All About You” (download) and his spot-on cover of “Maybe I’m Amazed” (download). Then go buy some friggin’ CDs.