Jason Castro

Only a Mountain

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Jason Castro's third studio album, 2013's Only a Mountain, is the singer's second contemporary Christian-themed release and builds nicely upon 2010's Who I Am. Previous to these releases, Castro worked in the realm of secular pop/rock with his 2010 self-titled debut. That release, coming off Castro's run on American Idol, delivered a pleasant, somewhat hippy-dippy sound that moved from strummy ukulele cuts to more strident alt-rock tunes, none of which raised the bar for the Texas native. Though he was the first AmIdol contestant to play an instrument on the show, his first album served more to endear him to audiences as a flower child than to impress listeners as an artist who could carry an album's worth of material. Who I Am quickly followed that same year, and while the album oddly included many of the same tracks from his first album, the disc nonetheless worked overall to reveal the dreadlocked singer to be a deeper, more thoughtful artist than his time on AmIdol might have shown. In that spirit, Only a Mountain showcases how much Castro has grown, especially as a vocalist. Where his slight, somewhat raspy voice used to bring to mind '70s "Let Her In"-era John Travolta, tracks here like the uplifting "If It's Love" and the slow-burn ballad "Stay This Way" display Castro's more mature vocal sound, one that falls somewhere between the yearning gravity of OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder and hushed intensity of Ed Sheeran. These are dynamic piano- and guitar-driven productions that slough off some of his more cherubic tendencies in favor of an adult contemporary soulfulness. It also doesn't hurt that Castro, who married in 2010 and had a daughter in 2011, gets co-writing credit on every song on Only a Mountain. The result is that Only a Mountain is a solid album that leaves you with the impression that Castro is more directly in command of his life, his career, and his music.

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