Jason Nesmith

Portrait

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AllMusic Review by

As he gets older, Jason Nesmith is starting to look more and more like his dad; thanks in part to the beard, the cover shot of Portrait almost looks like it could be a promo shot of Michael Nesmith from the early days of the First National Band. Musically, however, the singer/songwriter has always been his own man. This has not always been a good thing, as anyone who ever heard the effete neo-glam of Nancy Boy back in the mid-'90s will well remember. (A band at least a half-decade before their time, Nancy Boy might have at least fit in with the besuited and mascaraed hordes that followed the Strokes, but they simply never had the tunes to match their impressively stylized look and truly inspired band name.) Musically, Nesmith doesn't share anything but a surname with his father's quirky country-rock. On its own merits, Portrait is a solid, contemporary singer/songwriter album. Not beholden to any particular stylistic subgenre, Nesmith's closest points of comparisons are Jason Falkner, Brendan Benson, and Michael Penn. These are mature guitar pop tunes with a strong tendency towards minor-key moodiness ("Island in a Storm"), and occasional retro nods like the groovy psych-era Indian instrumentation that decorates the dreamy "On the Run." A low-key album that perhaps lacks that one truly great song to anchor the record as a whole, Portrait is nonetheless Nesmith's strongest and most self-assured musical statement so far.

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