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Sept. 30, 2005

Come fly with Frank Si - John Stevens?

by Merlyn Deng, Online Editor-in-Chief
Chills ran up spines when people first heard his voice on American Idol Season 3. His voice resonates with a ghostly familiarity for many American Idol fans, sounding like the great American singer Frank Sinatra's velvety-smooth voice. His name is John Stevens.

Many viewers remember Stevens as the shy, sweet and slightly awkward American Idol 3 finalist with a distinct voice that stuck out amongst other contestants as well as his musical peers. Although his voice is definitely not what many people expect from young performers during this musical era, Stevens has begun to pave his music career with his classic style in his premiere album, "Red," which is both a tribute to well-known American music and a memorable first album.

Stevens has only taken baby steps into the music world with the recording of his album "Red," which is something many of his American Idol 3 competitors have failed to do. He made this album with one of his favorite musical inspirations of all time in mind: Frank Sinatra. Almost every song on "Red" is a cover from Frank Sinatra's expansive works, like "Come Fly with Me" and "My Blue Heaven." "Red" also has versions of two other popular songs: Maroon 5's "This Love" and The Beatles' "Here, There and Everywhere."

Although he draws upon the accomplishments of other artists in his first album, to condemn Stevens as a copy-cat is wrong. "Red" clearly shows that Stevens is a beginning artist with a wealth of talent. His words may not be his own, but Stevens delivers breath-taking renditions of the aforementioned pieces with a new perspective for each song. In particular, he does a great job with "This Love," gracing Maroon 5's work with well-chosen vocals to go with a soulful piano and guitar accompaniment.

Although Stevens's voice attracts female audiences of all ages, it also has plenty of great qualities for any listener. Stevens's style is nostalgic, relaxing and sweet all at the same time. Stevens's voice is without a doubt extremely smooth, warm and memorable, and breaks away from the usual screaming, belting vocal style that other entertainers have.

When Stevens was on American Idol, he had a soft, sweet voice that needed personality and flavor, which served as a tremendous disadvantage for him during the competition. Unfortunately, Stevens has the same problem with his album. Although he can perform the pieces on "Red" with few technical flaws, Stevens lacks the power and emotion behind his music that his role model Sinatra possessed. However, that this does not mean Stevens is without his own passion; he simply has not been courageous enough to immerse himself in his own work to become an artist in his own right.

Since he has not reached that level of maturity yet in his career, Stevens's voice comes off a little strained in "Red." Throughout the album, he sounds unsure why or what he sings, which detracts from the appeal of the album. If anything, Stevens needs to find his own inspiration, but not through Sinatra, Maroon 5 or the Beatles.

Stevens's first album, although mostly made up of covers, hints that he has quite a bit of potential. He needs to break away from the Sinatra mold that "Red" was made in to truly become a great musical artist. When he does, he will be able to express himself to the fully to his listeners. But for now, "Red" only shows promises of a growing musical sensation.



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  • Laurel Jones (View Email) on September 30, 2005 at 6:26 PM
    A well written review of a very well chosen subject! As a fan of John Stevens, who's had his "Red" album since the first week it was released, I agree with, and appreciate, the comments on my favorite up-and-coming talent.

    I am looking forward to seeing what John will do with his next album. I am sure he will have one.

    Laurel Jones, Portland, Oregon
  • WHAT on October 1, 2005 at 9:29 AM
    Comparing this clown to Frank Sinatra ought to be a crime, first of all.

    This kid stunk up American Idol, and is far from being a musical sensation. Why is this review even up? You should be reviewing real music here.

    Oy.
  • name on October 9, 2005 at 8:38 PM
    why the would you even do an article on this guy???

    george huff is way better
  • Morph_Man_Dude (View Email) on October 22, 2005 at 4:20 AM
    Long time coming this comment but I think this is great. To me he was a great person to see on tv and I loved his music (well when he wasn't forced into a song which doesn't suit him). I do hope that I can aquire this album.
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