Uphill To Purgatory

JJ Appleton

Independent release, 2005

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Oh good, another white male singer/songwriter in his mid-20s who sings about relationships. At least, that's what I thought when I received JJ Appleton's second disc, this one recorded in New York (instead of L.A.). What could Appleton have to say that John Mayer and Sting haven't already said before?my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Not much, really, but at least Appleton is diverse in his tastes. The opener "Anyone" is a Fountains Of Wayne-esque song, while "The More Things Change" has a surprising amount of grit in the Black Crowes-esque riff, as well as a good solo. "We Always Say Goodbye" would have fit nicely on mid-90s rock radio right next to the Cranberries and Tom Petty, while "Someone Else's Problem" is lyrically biting but musically average, a bit like a Steve Miller song with an ex-girlfriend rant theme.

But not everything works. "Because I Do" tries to be meaningful but comes off as a second-rate Train rewrite, while "I Mean Well" is decent but uncomfortably close to Tom Petty, who Appleton is a dead singer for. (He is a dead ringer for Ben Affleck, so I had to alter the cliché. Sorry...) And "Picture This" just sounds like Appleton is trying too hard (in the press release, he says he is trying to write a George Harrison song. I don't hear it...)

"Still Think About You" is derivative of all those pop-punk clones like Good Charlotte, only without the annoying high-pitched singer, but it's redeemed by "If I Can't Have You," which is the best Rolling Stones song I've heard in a while -- and if the album had been more like this, it would have been more successful. "There Is No Pill" has a good message about America's dependency on medication, with some good cello work to boot, but it goes on a bit too long.

JJ Appleton is obviously talented, although his lyrics need a bit of work, but musically he fails to find his own voice. His influences are diverse and his heart is in the right place, but Uphill To Purgatory is just like its title -- neither excellent nor terrible, it floats in limbo right in the middle.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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