To me, a wannabe keyboard playa and a journalist who earns a monthly mortgage payment writing about topics other than music (yeah, Popdose ain’t the gravy train a lot of readers would make it out to be–but in my heart of hearts I know that the lack of lucre makes it a purer place to read and write about music), Jon Regen is living the dream: Not only is the dude making music with pals like Andy Summers and Martha Wainwright on his new CD, Let it Go, he’s writing cover stories for the coolest mag for us ivory-oriented musicians out there, Keyboard.
His music is definitely on the sophisticated side of pop, as evidenced by Let It Go‘s opening title cut. A little Dave Matthews vocal warble and a lot of the serious side of Ben Folds saturates the record, all of which can be heard here and at his MySpace.. His style–and musical complexity–was influenced by his time with jazz players Jimmy Scott and Kenny Barron, and the pristine sound of the piano on the record can be attributed to Steinway giving him the keys to its storied warehouse, letting him record with whatever grand he pleased.
Lest one assume, however, that Regen’s all about jazz chops, he puts that notion to rest on cuts like “Something to Hold,” where he dumps the piano and busts out the Wurlizter (think Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say”) and adds an organ to “It’s Alright by Me,” a gospel-tinged number that is the most Dave Matthews-esque of the bunch.
“Close to Me” features Summers on guitar, and sounds very ’80s pop–not in a synth-y Waitresses kind of way, but in a post-Synchronicity, deeply mixed, contemplative, intelligent late-1980s way. Sting-ish. Not Don Henley-ish. You know what I mean.
Regen’s lone solo piano-and-vocal track, “Photographs of You” is the highlight of the set. In such sparse arrangements, artists sink or swim; they can’t hide behind an ensemble mixed into a sonic stew. Regen stands up to the test.
No question, Let it Go isn’t kids’ stuff, it’s for grownups. If you dig nuanced and introspective, music–in other words, the exact opposite of Fergie Ferg–and you also appreciate excellent piano work, check out Jon Regen. He’s your guy.