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Reviewed by Mike Farley
Right from the opening chords and subtle but steady rhythm, “Beating My Heart” sets the tone on OK Now, taking about 30 seconds to soar into heights mirrored by McLaughlin’s powerful voice, with just the right amount of falsetto. “Four Years” continues the party, with a hooky made-for-radio, harmony-filled chorus. “You Can Never Go Back” has melodic elements of ‘70s rockers ELO, and on slower, R&B flavored tracks like “Things That You Say” and “You Are the Only One I Love,” dude’s soulful tenor resembles that of the great Stevie Wonder -- really. “Dance Your Life Away” sounds just a bit forced, but still rivals anything in Justin Timberlake’s catalog. And while “We All Need Saving” is a few ticks of the metronome slow, the message and performance are equally powerful enough to bring it along.
Jon McLaughlin will probably spend another year or two shedding the common mistake among journalists that he’s not related to jazz guitarist John McLaughlin, but among his mostly younger audience, that won’t really matter. What does matter is that Island Records has a real gem on their hands -- a dude that can sing, write great songs and look good on TV. Look for big things for McLaughlin and a career with unlimited potential.