With the likes of Rumer, Nerina Pallot, and even Ronan Keating bringing orchestral '60s pop back into fashion, singer/songwriter Jonathan Jeremiah's debut album, A Solitary Man, couldn't have been timed any better. Indeed, the London-born vocalist may cite the likes of Nick Drake, John Martyn, and Cat Stevens as his main influences, but while its 11 tracks are undoubtedly steeped in the sounds of the late '60s/early '70s, it's the timeless lounge-pop of Burt Bacharach that draws the closest comparison. Making full use of his impressive array of guest musicians (the Heritage Orchestra, James Brown's brass section the J.B.'s, Roots drummer ?uestlove), the likes of opening track "If You Only," the ironically titled "Happiness," and the gorgeous "Lost" are all drenched in the kind of warm layers of strings, gentle horns, and shuffling brushed percussion that defined the songwriting legend's heyday, while Jeremiah's deep gritty baritone is the perfect foil for the sweet soulful melodies and contrasting tales of relationship woes. The barroom blues of closing track "All the Man That I'll Ever Be" (written at the last minute after his girlfriend became upset that there wasn't a song dedicated to her), the pastoral folk of the title track, and the soothing fingerpicking acoustics of "How Half-Heartedly We Believe" show glimpses of the serious singer/songwriter vibes hinted at through his choice of musical idols. But the album works best when it's in full-on lounge lizard mode, particularly the swaggering soul-blues of "Heart of Stone," which wouldn't sound out of place on a Vegas-era Tom Jones set list, and the big-band swing of "See (It Doesn't Bother Me)." A big voice on young shoulders, A Solitary Man's occasional shifts in direction suggests Jeremiah hasn't quite yet figured out exactly what to do with it. But in a scene littered with ten-a-penny acoustic troubadours, he would be wise to stick with its more charming and prevalent multi-layered sound.
Jon O'Brien, Rovi