Published September 23, 2009 at 6:24 a.m.
You probably don’t hear as much about local songwriter Jer Coons as you should. Although lately, dude hasn’t been around all that much. The pop troubadour has taken his act on the road and largely left the comfort of his Green Mountains home behind. A glance at his calendar reveals an impressive number of dates all over these United States. Coons was kind enough to record his debut album, Speak, just before he left, but for pop-enthused Vermonters, it might also serve as a “Dear John” letter to his home state. Once radio — and a sufficient quantity of squealing teenage girls — get wind of it, he’s likely bound for bigger things.
Let’s get one thing straight: Jer Coons is a Pop songwriter — capital “P.” And he’s a good one. As he travels the highways and byways of this great land, he will elicit comparisons to any and all of the following dudesmiths: Jason Mraz, Howie Day, John Mayer, Jack Johnson, etc. Smartly, Coons addresses that impending critical folly on his website, outlining how he is and isn’t similar to several current pop darlings. For example, his take on Mraz:
“Similarities: They both have a huge range and can sing many words in a short amount of time with few pauses. Differences: Guys actually listen to Jer Coons.” Pretty funny, right?
That tongue-in-cheek bravado will serve him well on his road to stardom, as it does over the course of Speak. Coons is a playful, and at times artful, writer. However, there’s a reason folks will compare him to bigger acts. Though he’s abundantly talented, Coons is also young and has yet to fully put his own stamp on his music.
From the opening title track through album closer “The Only Trace,” you can pretty much make a list of the above songwriters and check them off as influences like in a game of “I Spy.”
That said, two things should set Coons apart as he grows. One, the kid can sing. Like, really sing. He has great instincts and impeccable control, combined with a genuinely pleasing voice. And two, he’s funny. Like, really funny.
Amid the fairly predictable sonic fare that makes up most of the disc, Coons proves a slyly entertaining lyricist, which lends a cheeky, “aw, shucks” appeal to his music that, frankly, most of the aforementioned rogues’ gallery can’t touch — looking at you, Howie Day. Given a little time to come into his own, Jer Coons should not only live up to his chosen influences, but surpass them entirely.
Jer Coons releases Speak this Friday, September 25, at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge.
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