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Secondhand Serenade - Hear Me Now Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 7.75
Musicianship 7.75
Lyrics 5.75
Production 8.75
Creativity 6
Lasting Value 7.25
Reviewer Tilt 6.75
Final Verdict: 71%
Member Ratings
Vocals 7.33
Musicianship 7.15
Lyrics 6.78
Production 7.4
Creativity 6.93
Lasting Value 7.15
Reviewer Tilt 6.23
Average: 70%
Inside AP.net

Secondhand Serenade - Hear Me Now

Reviewed by: Gregory Robson (08/02/10)
Secondhand Serenade - Hear Me Now
Record Label: Glassnote Records
Release Date: Aug. 3, 2010


He can hate me if he wants, but John Vesely, more commonly known as Secondhand Serenade, is this century's answer to Australian soft-rock kings AIr Supply. While sonically, there's a glaring difference between the 80s quintet and the maudlin balladry of Vesely, emotionally, his output crafts the same heart-on-sleeve pining that makes soccer moms and 15-year-olds wet with glee.

On his third album Hear Me Now he blends syrupy affairs with self-ruminating meditations to create a potent stew of mid-tempo melodicism and timeless crescendos. While it's not exactly an album of the year candidate, there's enough radio fodder and at least a few hints at the possibility of another platinum-selling single. While Veseley has gone on record as admitting that Hear Me Now would focus less on relationships and more on upbeat numbers, neither of those two things are true.

Album opener "Distance," is a sweeping and saturnine ballad about missing his wife, while first single "Something More," is a mid-tempo number with a sweetly affecting piano melody and lyrics that document self-reflection and identity. When he sings the words, "Do we know what we're fighting for? I fooled everyone and now what will I become?," it carries a sentiment that could easily resonate with middle-schoolers and post-grads. But are they profoundly deep? Therein lies the conundrum with Vesely. Sure his Hallmark lyrics may not exactly be thought-provoking, but his ability to marry heart-on-sleeve intimacy with radio-ready choruses truly knows no bounds. In short, when it comes to Top 40 and AC radio formats, there are few better than this guy.

The overly emotive "You and I," is Vesely's first attempt at upping the sonic ante, and while its a noble effort, very little about this ode to yearning is stadium-ready. On the other hand, the building crescendo of "Is Anybody Out There?" stakes its claim as the album's most dense offering. Laden with double-barreled guitars and pounding drums, it picks up on the same inner-reflection of "Something More," but goes a bit farther. While it's undeniably moving, it's worth noting the sentiment behind it all. Financially well-endowed and supremely comfortable, one has to wonder what led Vesely to write such an ode to aimless wandering.

As much as he tries to dot Hear Me Now with upbeat songs ("Is Anybody Out There?" springs to mind), the quavering nature of his vocals do little to support them. Whether he wants to admit it or not, the vulnerability and suppleness of his timbre is tailor-made for poignant ballads and wistful movie soundtracks. That very sentiment is something he should never lose sight of. While he can certainly be labeled soft, saccharine and any other pejorative term, there are far too many musicians struggling in basements, dive bars and subway platforms that would trade body parts to write ballads this evocative and timeless. "Reach for the Sky," "World Turns," and the title track are proof of this.

If Hear Me Now ends up being a triumph, a good chunk of the credit should go to producer Aaron Johnson. The California knob-twiddler has worked with the likes of The Fray, Jonas Sees in Color and others and knew exactly how to shape these ballads. But even if it is a triumph, those that can appreciate good music are never going to smile upon lyrics as trite and as banal as "My eyes feel like they're bleeding, but I'm just crying." In the end, for as much as it tries to be anything but, Hear Me Now comes across as a dozen plaintive love letters. Somewhere back in Australia, Air Supply is smiling.

Track Listing 1. Distance
2. Something More
3. Stay Away
4. You and I
5. Is Anybody Out There?
6. Reach For the Sky
7. Only Hope
8. So Long
9. World Turns
10. Nightmares
11. Hear Me Now
12. Run For Cover


Recommended If You Like Rookie of the Year, The Fray, Goo Goo Dolls


Find Him Here Website
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Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 120.
05:44 AM on 08/02/10
#2
cereal4life
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Quote:
his output crafts the same heart-on-sleeve pining that makes soccer moms and 15-year-olds wet with glee.

This encapsulates precisely what Secondhand Serenade is all about. The guy's lyrics are just atrocious. I actually feel sorry that a 20-something artists writes such trite and pathetic lyrics. Good review, as usual, Greg!
06:10 AM on 08/02/10
#3
simplejack
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Yesterday I read the allmusic review for this album and a line described this record perfectly:

Quote:
Hear Me Now isn’t offensive; it’s just predictable and anonymous

If someone were expecting any musical progression from the repetitive wails of Awake (but more coherent to his good-looking-guy-with-heart-drenched-in-pain persona) or the full band sadness of A Twist In My Story, will be disappointed.
06:59 AM on 08/02/10
#4
DanielJames
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I have absolutely no respect for this guy. The drummer of Secondhand who grew up around my area and recorded my band's first EP years ago and played with us for a bit is always telling us stories about John that shed him in a not-so-good light.
07:00 AM on 08/02/10
#5
Argentine
When I die, rap dies; Destiny Bond.
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I'm not expecting this record to break ANY new ground but I'm expecting to hopefully outdo his last lackluster record. Great review, Greg.
07:37 AM on 08/02/10
#6
Daveyhavok832
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Yesterday I read the allmusic review for this album and a line described this record perfectly:



If someone were expecting any musical progression from the repetitive wails of Awake (but more coherent to his good-looking-guy-with-heart-drenched-in-pain persona) or the full band sadness of A Twist In My Story, will be disappointed.
I suppose it's good you just put him o blast then...
09:07 AM on 08/02/10
#7
Jisuka
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I think Hear Me Now is really awesome and I can't wait till tomorrow, August 3rd! I'm definitely going to buy it and I'm really excited and looking forward to it :)
09:11 AM on 08/02/10
#8
Argentine
When I die, rap dies; Destiny Bond.
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I have absolutely no respect for this guy. The drummer of Secondhand who grew up around my area and recorded my band's first EP years ago and played with us for a bit is always telling us stories about John that shed him in a not-so-good light.
Really? How so?
09:11 AM on 08/02/10
#9
Matthew Tsai
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This encapsulates precisely what Secondhand Serenade is all about. The guy's lyrics are just atrocious. I actually feel sorry that a 20-something artists writes such trite and pathetic lyrics. Good review, as usual, Greg!
Hahaha, great line Gregory.
09:13 AM on 08/02/10
zachff
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I want to make soccer moms wet with glee.
09:26 AM on 08/02/10
MTrench
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I'm looking foward to tomorrow, the release of "hear me now" is something I've been waiting for. I love secondhand serenade, and I hope the record is good. haha.
09:26 AM on 08/02/10
amazing2104
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"Happily married, financially well-endowed and supremely comfortable, one has to wonder what led Vesely to write such an ode to aimless wandering." Happily married? I thought he was divorced, although I could be wrong. As much as I love secondhand serenade, I liked previous albums better. Maybe it's because I prefer acoustic music, I'll still buy the album though.
09:28 AM on 08/02/10
AdrianithaCaa
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I love Secondhand Serenade!!
Love his music I can't wait to buy Hear Me Now, I have already listen to all the songs, music & lyrics are awesome!!!
09:40 AM on 08/02/10
McStephy
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I'm not a soccer mom, or a 15 year old, but I love the new album. I've been looking forward to it's release for quite a while.

Obviously it is a departure from 'A Twist In My Story', and even more so from 'Awake'... but it still has a very Secondhand Serenade feel to it... and I love it.
10:53 AM on 08/02/10
BrennanHickson
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I have absolutely no respect for this guy. The drummer of Secondhand who grew up around my area and recorded my band's first EP years ago and played with us for a bit is always telling us stories about John that shed him in a not-so-good light.
Do tell.
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