Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights - Hot Trottin'
Record Label: None
Release Date: May 12, 2007
Don’t let his rough, rock n’ roll mug shot fool you; though the cover of Jonathan Tyler’s first release, Hot Trottin’, is a picture of the front man half-awake, with his shaggy hair tousled, and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, his debut is a surprising mix of blues, soul, 70’s rock, and even one particular jazz track. The standout song and single, “Gypsy Woman,” kicks off with Tyler’s impressive voice fading from front to back while a guitar riff loops through. Though the initial hook is reminiscent of The Guess Who’s “American Woman,” by the end of the song, Tyler’s vocal style is similar to John Mayer.
While the ten song CD is an overall good one, it’s not without its mistakes. Hit the skip button on the second track, “She’s From the Other Side,” because Tyler’s yo-yo vocals quickly become downright irritating. If you can avoid the urge to run out and buy a couch, stick with fourth track, “Time for Love.” The song unfortunately begins with a jazz interlude that would make the dulcet tunes in a Dillard’s furniture department store jealous, but the redeeming qualities of its accompanying guitar and sweetly crooning vocals save the otherwise terrible song.
Almost every track includes an off-putting factor, sometimes vocal or instrumental. Tyler has a great voice, and one can appreciate his effort to appeal to all audiences by experimenting with different types of music. The countrified “Slowtrain” begins with a harmonica and banjo introduction. However, while the blender mix of all these different sounds can leave a bad taste, it is unique. The high notes are outstanding, and Tyler’s band, the Northern Lights keep a listener intrigued and enjoying their collaborative talents. It is possible the surprise of another musical element in each song could cause a listener to dislike Tyler’s release; one can never get too comfortable with the way a song is going, because it just might go from 70’s inspired rock to blues and jazz, all in a 4-5 minute span. One can only hope on his next release, Jonathan Tyler will keep his unique sense of production, but discover his true sound—without another jazz instrumental break.