Average Joe

Unsigned & Fine

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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann

In a letter to his mother included in the CD booklet for his second album, Joe Keliikipi ("Average Joe, the individual") writes, "We are calling the CD UNSIGNED as kind of a play on 'unplugged,'" and, indeed, there are more acoustic guitars, along with harmonica, on this generally quieter effort. But Keliikipi is also correct in telling his mother, "This album is really geared towards developing the 'Average Joe STYLE' and I think it has a pretty distinct sound." That sound is coalescing into a Springsteen/Seger/Mellencamp Middle American rock approach with Caribbean touches, perhaps what you'd expect of a Hawaiian native who grew up in Pittsburgh and lives in Orlando. But that doesn't explain how Keliikipi can turn in a cover of Seal's "Crazy" that takes it far beyond its composer's intentions or come up with his own '50s doo-wop song in "Mindy." Put that down to the band's extensive experience in local bars, but it is also indicative of the breadth of their musical experience. Keliikipi has a fine understanding of musical dynamics, and if his songs here are less accomplished than those on his first album, they are better arranged and performed; he knows where to put a chorus for maximum effect and how to get the most out of his melodies. The result is a "pretty distinct," but still not quite formed sound that shows great promise. Makes you wonder what he could do if he had a decent recording budget.