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CD REVIEW: Jack's Mission - "New Butterfly"
By David Lockeretz - 08/16/2002 - 10:02 PM EDT

Artist: Band: Jack's Mission
Album: New Butterfly
CD Review: It's rare for a critic (and I use the term loosely) to say that a band does NOT have enough commercial influence, but as I see it, that's the main thing holding back Jack's Mission, a Washington DC-area band.

These guys can definitely play, and on their own, both their music and lyrics are strong. But it seems as if the perfect mix of the two has eluded Jack's Mission. The result is a collection of songs that certainly give no doubt about the band's artistic credentials, but will also probably not stick in the heads of many listeners.

There are two songs which I think have a shot at becoming radio staples. "It's Always Been That Way" has a tight, funky groove and a good melody in which Steve Sweeney sings politically conscious lyrics similar to those of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire." "Smooth as Glass" reminds me of Steely Dan (gentle readers, whenever I compare a band to Steely Dan, I am giving them the highest compliment in my canon). It has some harmonic transitions that will definitely turn the listener's head.

With tasty Hammond B-3 organ and harmonica, solid rhythm section work and honest, bluesy guitar playing--and the occasional presence of violin and saxophone--Jack's Mission resembles the Dave Matthews Band. However, Matthews' strength is the ability to mix a deeply funky groove and sophisticated horn arrangements with a simple, memorable chorus. What Jack's Mission needs is a "Too Much" or a "What Would You Say" to go along with their more subtle, introspective songs on this CD, such as "The Pull" or "Part Of You."

Despite the fact that I honestly believe Britney Spears has caused more damage to the world than Jack the Ripper, I do think that the pop song, as executed by Elvis Costello, David Bowie or, heck, even Neil Diamond, is a truly satisfying form. These guys have the hard stuff down; it's the easy stuff they need to tackle next.

For more information about Jack's Mission, visit www.jacksmission.com.


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