Secondhand Serenade

Awake

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As a group name for singer/songwriter John Vesely (who plays and sings just about everything here), Secondhand Serenade is oddly appropriate, since Awake sounds on just about every level like a studious approximation of Dashboard Confessional. Awake isn't necessarily a bad album, but the lack of original inspiration on songs like "Vulnerable" and "Maybe" is pretty startling. (Obviously, even the song titles are second-hand.) Even the first-time listener should be able to pinpoint exactly at which second Vesely's double-tracked high harmony voice is going to come in, for example, or when the tune will modulate upward for an extra soup├žon of yearning and strain. That said, while Vesely isn't the least bit unique, he does his chosen style well enough, and there's no reason why fans of the sensitive-guy-with-acoustic end of emo wouldn't at least be curious about Awake.

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