Former Addison Road lead singer Jenny Simmons is out on her own with her first solo album, The Becoming. In doing so, she joins an ever-increasing number of former lead singers who went solo with extremely varying degrees of success. While her name itself will likely attract many listeners, ultimately The Becoming is, from the cover art to the last notes and everything in between, perfectly average.
Depending very much on the listener, this could be a quite enjoyable album, but ultimately this record is nothing we haven't heard before. Simmons sticks so closely to the formula of past successful pop acts, not to mention drawing on the successes of Addison Road as well, that she really can't possibly do anything "wrong," per se. The seasoned listener, though, will almost certainly find The Becoming so predictable that they could listen to the first 10 seconds of opener "Where I Belong," and know exactly how the rest of the album will sound. There are some encouraging upbeat pop tracks with several slower ones mixed in, and each and every one has potential for pop radio success. Many are introspective, and will doubtlessly move many listeners, but none of them delve deep enough to truly reveal Simmons on a personal level. The music is almost exclusively supplied by the traditional troupe of acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keyboard, and percussion; in other words, the best way to describe this album can be summed up in one single word: safe.
It's hard to truly evaluate the effort put into the album. On one hand, the lyrics here are the generic made-for-radio stuff that, as the story goes, comes on at just the right moment and brightens the listener's day (from "I am right where I belong/ Don't need a place to call my own/ With you, I am home" from "Where I Belong," to "What if I jump and I find I was always made to fly/ What if the days I'm walking into are the best of my whole life" from "What Faith's About"). On the other hand, Simmons certainly tries to be open and personal with the listener ("When it comes to being free, I am my own worst enemy/ Though I can criticize every move I make, I've got a microscope on my mistakes/ And I steal glory from the one who made me me, I know the words, but help me believe" from "This I know," or "Two languages I heard when I was young/ one said "make believe," the other said "run"/ but I had no peace when I tried to pretend, and running never got me anywhere in the end" from "Broken Hallelujah"). But she never really says anything new and, in the end (especially paired with the bland music), it still feels like she is merely trying to make the listener relate with her than actually be open and honest. And people will relate to them; in this regard, this album is headed for nothing but success, especially if it's widely marketed and one of the made-for-radio songs included herein achieve success.
Now, in all honesty, nothing that is average can be truly bad, so I certainly cannot say that anything about Simmon's album is bad, but undoubtedly many will call it that. Of course, since the album plays it so safe and is enjoyable for the masses, many will undoubtedly say it is an excellent album. But in the end, The Becoming merely followed to a tee the instructions from the book How To Make An Album In Ten Easy Steps. So those that are tired of cheery (if not sometimes cheesy) lyrics with glossy production that fits right into the mold of Christian Pop/AC heard oh-so-frequently on the radio, would do well to stay away from The Becoming. However, if you like listening to the first solo effort of potential-filled singer-songwriters with a lot of room for growth, this is definitely a possibility.
- Review date: 2/3/13, written by Mark Rice of Jesusfreakhideout.com