As an aspiring artist, to be compared to the likes of Brian Wilson and a young John Lennon can almost be a bit of a burden, possibly resulting in one of two things; either be critically engendered as a cheap imitation or worse yet, banishment to the proverbial musical middle-of-nowhere as nothing more than a marginal likeness. Heavy lies that crown, most assuredly, but Jared Lekites embraces that honor. Ever so rarely an artist will break that mold and be elevated in comparison, thus spurring him on to parallel heights within his peer audience. Fortunately, for this singer/songwriter from Edmond, Oklahoma, I’m predicting just that success. "Looking For Diamonds" is every bit the debut proposition you might hope for it to be.
"Looking For Diamonds" is a pop album that is chock full of texture. Album opener "Love That Lasts" shows Lekites going for the jugular immediately. Within five seconds you will completely immerse yourself in this song and thereupon acknowledge the Brian Wilson comparisons. In a complimentary way (and probably unfair to Jared), after listening, I had to resist an insurmountable urge to switch over to the Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds" on my iTunes. To say the song compares favorably is somewhat of an understatement. Indeed the critically acclaimed masterpiece from 1966 may have been profoundly inspirational to Lekites, and it shows, but make no mistake, "Love That Lasts" is similarly majestic on it's own merit. The song is so good, I actually had to walk away to stay focused after listening.
"Looking For A Diamond," "Electric Car Ballet" and "Unrequited Love Song" are stirringly galvanizing songs. The latter is a work of perfection, a combination of early 60's Beatles and early 70's Hollies, with a nod to George Harrison's solo efforts and a hint of Gram Parsons. This is a song that will absolutely hold you captive. Lekites uses dreamy, wandering guitars that pick their way in and out, gliding on a constant stream of sound that is deeply layered and punctuated by matching vocal melody. What makes "Unrequited Love Song" instantly timeless is Lekites' ability to blend it's individual influences into a finished project that is likewise indistinguishable of it's predecessors. It is a staggeringly beautiful song.
Jared closes the album with "Let Your Hair Down Once In Awhile." Isolated and tranquil, this ballad is an almost flawless example of downbeat-folk pop story telling. The rise and fall of Lekites' vocal inflection make for a particularly nice treat despite the somber feel of the song. The production is pristine, allowing both the acoustic guitar and the vocals to soar, with understated driving percussion at just the right points.
To summarize, "Looking For Diamonds" is a great record, a fantastic record in fact and a fortuitous find. Jared Lekites offers a recording that is openly honest, reverent and wonderfully constructed; a measured, beautifully crafted album that signals an exciting debut. The pop moments are near perfect, and the focus on sweeping harmonies and blanketing melodies makes "Looking For Diamonds" an extremely enjoyable listen throughout.
released May 16, 2010
Produced & Mixed by Jared Lekites
at Orchard Hill Studio, Edmond, OK
All instruments & Vocals by Jared Lekites
Mastered by Doug Van Sloun
at Focus Mastering, Omaha, NE
all rights reserved