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AM - Soul Variations Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9
Musicianship 8.75
Lyrics 8.5
Production 9
Creativity 8
Lasting Value 9.25
Reviewer Tilt 9.5
Final Verdict: 89%
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Inside AP.net

AM - Soul Variations

Reviewed by: Rich Duncan (08/01/07)
AM - Soul Variations
Record Label - AMSOUNDS
Release Date- 2007


Although he is still relatively unknown to the general public, Los Angeles based singer-songwriter AM had a successful year in 2006 and generated a considerable amount of underground buzz. His debut album, Troubled Times, was voted one of the best indie albums of the year by iTunes and every single song from the album appeared in numerous television shows such as ABC’s “What About Brian?”, MTV’s “The Real World”, and HBO’s “Big Love”. The fact that the entire album was used to compliment various emotional scenes in so many different projects does not surprise me as Troubled Times was a collection of songs that were instantly gratifying. The album also contained the perfect balance of infectious acoustic anthems and heartfelt ballads, making the songs applicable to just about every available media outlet. I was genuinely impressed with the talent displayed on Troubled Times and I anxiously awaited AM’s next release to see if he would improve upon the blueprint he set forth for himself, or if he would simply retread the formula he used on his debut as some singer-songwriters unfortunately do.

Well I got my answer when I found AM’s sophomore release, Soul Variations, sitting in my mailbox. Soul Variations starts off with “Stepping Stone”, a beautifully hushed ballad showcases AM’s signature soothingly smooth vocals which set him apart from many of his peers trying to break into the crowded singer-songwriter genre. This song of lost love starts Soul Variations off in a similar manner to Troubled Times, but it is much more ornately arranged and shows the growth AM has achieved as an artist since writing his last album. “I Want Someone” is a more upbeat track but carries an underlying theme of darkness at the same time due mostly in part to the keyboard notes on this track. “I Want Someone” is the first track that really shows AM’s new influences, with underlying bongo percussion and a melodic sensibility that is more subtle than his previous album. “Old Song” is a simple, straightforward rocker with a simple yet mesmerizing melody through and through, but it also has traces of a more melodic side throughout the chorus.

“Streets You’ll Never Know” sticks out as a perfect soundtrack song, blending just the right amount of piano and light percussion with AM’s signature acoustic-driven balladry to create a song that would feel right at home on any romantic movie. “We Will Remain” shows AM mixing both his penchant for all things pop-rock with a slight undertone of jazz that creates an interesting and refreshing song in a genre that seemingly think straight-forward acoustic guitar pop songs are the only way to express oneself. Soul Variations is not as immediately grabbing as Troubled Times, which originally caught me off guard and made me a little disappointed. However, after spending a lot of time listening to the album, its nuances slowly grew on me and it ended up being more rewarding and resonating in the long term than its predecessor. In my review of his debut album I stated that AM had a “raw talent” , and now that raw talent has been refined and Soul Variations is a much subtler, fluid work. It takes AM’s previous influences that ranged from blues and country to acoustic based rock and pop melodies and fleshes them out with his new influences of jazz and R&B.

As with all singer-songwriters, they either have that special something that strikes a chord within the listener or they don’t. Some people will find AM to be nothing special and just another singer-songwriter in the sea of many, but I am betting a lot of people will also feel like me, and think that AM is a great talent and will enjoy both of his albums. Soul Variations has plenty of mainstream appeal so it won’t come as a surprise to me if I get a press release about him in the future that lists Soul Variations as having all ten songs appear on television shows. AM is destined for a bright future and Soul Variations finds him being one step closer to the fame and recognition he rightfully deserves.


http://www.myspace.com/amsounds
 
Displaying posts 1 - 9 of 9
11:12 PM on 08/01/07
#2
sparklebitca
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I've seen AM a few times; as is true with so many singer/songwriters, his material's a lot more engaging and poignant live. Nonetheless, I thought Troubled Times was a great album, so I'll definitely be checking this one out too. Thanks for a great review!
07:27 AM on 08/02/07
#3
Rich Duncan
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I've seen AM a few times; as is true with so many singer/songwriters, his material's a lot more engaging and poignant live. Nonetheless, I thought Troubled Times was a great album, so I'll definitely be checking this one out too. Thanks for a great review!

thanks for the comment! I was worried no one would check him out so I am glad you did.
11:42 AM on 08/02/07
#4
whyte39
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link?
12:57 PM on 08/02/07
#5
Rich Duncan
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I added it to the end of my review.
01:52 PM on 08/02/07
#6
dretti
bounce bitch bounce
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I didn't even know he was releasing a new album, I loved troubled times.
04:24 PM on 08/02/07
#7
Rich Duncan
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I didn't even know he was releasing a new album, I loved troubled times.

Yeah, I think when I reviewed his last record he was just gearing up for this, he had a song or two up I think. I think you will like it
06:46 PM on 08/02/07
#8
whyte39
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I added it to the end of my review.
cheers, i'm enjoying what im hearing
07:59 PM on 08/02/07
#9
DJosef
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I really didn't care for Troubled Times, aside from the title track, which is ridiculously catchy.
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