You don’t need a good voice to make it in pop music anymore, but you have a way better shot if you do (we’re not all Avi Buffalo). The Jesus Rehab‘s Jared Cortese has a great voice, so when his pop/rock songwriting catches up to his vocal prowess (and I suspect it will, if he keeps at it), he should be a just a hop, skip and a jump away from “making it” (whatever his idea of “making it” is).
Cortese’s strong, emotive tenor is a gift – it makes me want to listen to it. When it’s put into exuberant pop songs like “If It Feels Good It Is Good” and “The Highest Highs and the Lowest Lows,” the combination is magic. Cortese’s best bet instrument is piano, although his guitar playing is present throughout the album. That’s part of the problem; when Cortese punches the distortion pedal, he sets his voice out of its element in trying to sing rock. This is especially obvious on “Nervous Energy” and “Behind Closed Doors,” but is present in other places as well.
The best tune here, is “Seattle,” a straightforward acoustic tune that sounds like a lost Beach Boys cut, circa Wild Honey, before it breaks into a fuzzbox stomp. Here Cortese keeps his voice from the uncomfortable strain adopted in other electric sections and even adds a counterpoint; it’s this section of music (as well as the glorious slice of summer pop that is “If It Feels Good It Is Good”) that makes me believe The Jesus Rehab could be a stellar vehicle for Cortese going forward.
There’s room to grow for Cortese as a songwriter and performer; he just needs to keep making songs and learn how to turn his impulses into perfection. Recommended for those who like jumping on the bandwagon early.