Jonny Diaz

by: Jonny Diaz

It's not unusual for an artist to self-title a debut album, but when the artist's name adorns a later release, it can be taken either as an indication that an attempt is being made to start over or to present the quintessential expression of the artist's aspirations. (Or it can mean the artist just couldn't think of a title.) The album called Jonny Diaz is Jonny Diaz's fifth full-length CD, and it may be that he thinks he has finally created the record he had been trying for earlier. If so, he seeks an extremely formulaic way of writing, performing, and recording Christian pop/rock. Diaz has an appealing if somewhat anonymous husky tenor and a tendency toward clichéd vocal mannerisms such as the slight groan of sincerity he drops in here and there. His rather simple-minded religious sentiments are sincere enough, but he imbeds them in cookie-cutter pop/rock arrangements as if he had just read a book called How to Write and Record a Pop Song. This isn't just the world of verse/chorus/verse/bridge/chorus/chorus, it's one of pre-choruses, tags, and turnarounds purveyed by the excessively pop-conscious. Of course, it really all just boils down to hooks, of which there are far too many in every song. Time after time, there's an earnest, slow beginning, and then the chorus (or pre-chorus) arrives with a big jump in volume and instrumentation, grabbing the poor listener's ears unmercifully and not letting go for the next three minutes. Diaz uses the same tricks over and over, never realizing, apparently, that a melody is not just a succession of hooks and studio gimmicks. If he really wants to communicate his Christian message instead of just engaging in manipulation, he will have to try writing more individual, authentic music than what can be found on the album that bears his name. ~ William Ruhlmann

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