Keaton Simons’ sophomore album “Beautiful Pain” is riddled with cliché love songs and sprinkled with cheese. Where is the raw and bluesy guy from the first album? This album is ripe full of second-rate pop songs. My apologies go out to Jason Mraz who co-wrote some of the songs along with Simons.
The difference between Simons and Mraz is that there’s actually something soft and melodic in Mraz’s voice to coincide with the poppy love songs. At times Simons sounds like a less raspy version of the Nickelback frontman as he forces his manly voice.
This is not to say that Simons has a bad voice, it’s quite decent. Go back to his debut album “Can You Hear Me?” and listen to “Without Your Skin.” In that song you’ll find Simons’ voice saddled deep within the confines of a bluesy song about a deeper sense of love than just a “Beautiful Pain.”
Simons’ sophomore album isn’t a complete disappointment. After the first seven tracks fans get a glimpse of the man from Simons’ debut album on the track “Other Side.” It doesn’t stray as far from the musical theme of static bubbly happiness as it could have, but Simons does get real for a second. At this point in the album Simons gets serious with the girl he’s been wooing for the last seven songs when he asks her to love every side of him: good, bad and ugly. He sings “There’s another, darker side of me, inside the lies” then goes on in the chorus to beg for his girl to stay by pleading “Don’t let your heart betray the love we made.” Then the guitar solo soars in to give the song an anthemic feel, one to gather the masses under the universal fear of being completely honest with another person.
Perhaps by playing all the instruments on most of the songs (including the guitar solo on “Other Side”) Simons spread himself too thin on this album. He could have focused more on tuning the songs to sound like his voice and not the voice of say, Jason Mraz. Earth to Simons: A pop song about love written by Jason Mraz does not make you sound like him. Go back to writing your own songs so that the album sounds authentic.
If you like generic pop songs sung by a man who sounds like he should be either fronting a rock band or strumming his blues guitar under a solo spotlight than you should buy “Beautiful Pain” that will be released April 30th.