Jay Stolar

More Than We Think

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Jay Stolar's debut, More Than We Think, clearly has listener mood enhancement in mind. It recalls such chart monsters as contemporaries Pharrell Williams and Bruno Mars -- not as much in sound as in spirit. It's no coincidence that all of these fellows list Stevie Wonder among their favorites, and Stolar has the vocal charisma to belong among this uplifting group. Comparisons are further warranted on the recording by solid musicianship and arrangements, though the main delivery system is fetching blue-eyed soul; think Daryl Hall and Billy Vera. Again these are legends, but the vocal tone is genuinely there. More Than We Think is a self-released mainstream endeavor with portions of soul, funk, gospel, and folk balladeering, all with a pop through-line. The songs are catchy, there's an allotment of groove, production is sleek, and choir-style backing vocals abound; still, the listening take-away is lead vocals. Stolar can belt but he's engaging because of the flexibility in his performances. "Fall Apart" demonstrates this from track one with hushed subtlety that builds over the course of the song to full-on belting and back again, all with easy-sounding control. He wields rhythmic falsetto on "Like You Do" and "When I'm Acting Crazy," deliberate directness on "The Break," and intimate folkiness on "Wondering If" -- it’s an exhibition. His lyrics are in line with the musical mood: positive and hopeful about overcoming. "Lost" offers the relatable "I believe that it gets better than this/'Cause I can't seem to settle for less," and elsewhere, "Everything seems much harder when the wheels keep spinning and your feet get stuck in the ground." It'd be nice to hear Stolar get dark and dirty, but that's probably asking too much of an album that's already loaded with vocal breadth and intended to offer a different sort of inspiration. For now, it's fair to take what's he's offering, call it impressive, and hope for even more prowess to come.

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