Jon Peter Lewis

Break the Silence

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It's fair to say that Jon Peter Lewis was the original American Idol weirdo, the twisting pencil salesman who shook his way into a small cult -- one that was big enough to support him, yet not quite big enough to get him to a major-label contract. Small his cult may have been, but that only made them more dedicated, sticking with him as he built himself up as an independent artist, quietly releasing a debut called Stories from Hollywood in 2006, following it up two years later with Break the Silence. Like its predecessor, Break the Silence is on an indie, but this was given a bigger production and a bigger promotional push, which is only appropriate for a record that was made with mainstream radio in mind. That Break the Silence bears a greater resemblance to the mainstream radio of 1990 instead of 2008 is accidental -- despite a couple of fleeting Coldplay moments and an occasional mock British affectation, this almost feels like an homage to the age of Jon Secada -- but it's a sign of not only how isolated Jon Peter Lewis and his collaborators are, it's also proof that even the weirdos on American Idol are still consumed by their hunger for stardom. JPL plays it a little cooler than Danny Noriega, but he'd rather warble love songs and lullabies than shake it up, even to the extent of giving listeners a lively tempo. He's not bad at this: he is a plaintive, earnest singer with some degree of on-record charisma, but he's pirouetted from being an unrepentant ham on TV to being a stiff-shirt, button-down crooner. He's turned from a fun, goofy date into a safe, respectable husband who would benefit by reconnecting to his older, looser self.

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