4th Avenue Jones may be a new act to the Christian market, but is anything but new to music. Their 2000 independently released debut record No Plan B garnered significant mainstream attention which lead to the chance for the band to share the stage with such heavyweights as Sheryl Crow, Macy Gray, The Roots, Black Eyed Peas, and even James Brown. Their Gotee Records debut Stereo: The Evolution Of HipRockSoul is a layered, soulful, and innovative exploration of a style the band likes to call "hiprocksoul."
It's common for artists to find solace in a popular sound and trend to secure a space in the spotlight or a slot in regular radio rotation. 4th Avenue Jones makes no bones about trying to think outside of the proverbial box. Developing their signature sound of "hiprocksoul" throughout Stereo, makes this project a unique and delectable treat. From the opening static and frequent interludes that carry a theme of reflecting on the evolution of music, to the funk-drenched R&B cuts, 4th Avenue keeps the record fresh, quirky, and diverse.
Thematically, Stereo is just as diverse as it is stylistically. From the fun love song for a stereo in the title track to the more serious reflections on forgiveness in "Unhappy Birthday" and "Sorry," to the prayerfully written cry to God in "Take Me Away," Stereo has a little something for everyone. And it's treats like "Caesar" that showcase the band's flavorful innovations, incorportating frontman Ahmad Jones' freestyling talents with some backup from his five-piece band. The only minor drawbacks to the album are the interludes that precede each track grow old pretty fast, and you'll find yourself skipping over them before too long.
Stereo: The Evolution Of HipRockSoul possesses a winning stylistic blend that helps make 4th Avenue Jones' Gotee debut one of the best albums of the year so far. If you're a fan of Grits, Earthsuit, or music that dares to venture out and take risks, you'd do your stereo system a favor by gracing it with the savory sounds of 4th Avenue Jones.- Review date: 3/27/05, written by John DiBiase
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