CD Review of OK Now by Jon McLaughlin
Recommended if you like
Marc Broussard, Daniel Powter, Stevie Wonder
Label
Island
Jon McLaughlin: OK Now

Reviewed by Mike Farley

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J
ust when we all thought every guy with a guitar or piano making music sounded the same or didn’t do anything compelling enough to stand out, we need to think again. Indiana native Jon McLaughlin’s latest, OK Now, is his second album on Island Records and adds another notch in this youngster’s (he’s in his mid-20s) belt after appearing as a vocalist in the film “Enchanted.” Slickly produced by John Fields (Jonas Brothers, Lifehouse), this stuff is made for radio at a time when playlists are squeezed to the point of having no juice left. And if you can mentally separate McLaughlin’s voice from the instrumentation, his sheer talent is reason to check out OK Now.

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

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.

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