Joshua Payne

Your Love, My Home

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If the music and voice of Josh Groban were thrown in a blender with the laid-back approach of Norah Jones and pureed to an ultra smoothness by a top producer, the results just might resemble the debut disc of Joshua Payne. The sweeping balladry of Your Love, My Home introduces the classically trained Payne to the same masses who flocked to worship the pop romanticism of Groban and Andrea Bocelli. Teaming with producer Michael Omartian (Christopher Cross, Michael Bolton), Payne shies away from his classical roots to showcase a set of luxurious pop songs that go light on the bombast and heavy on sentiment. The title track basically sums up this formula, as an orchestra swells and ebbs with each progressive chorus highlighting Payne's longing voice that mews lyrics like "You will never know a night alone/I will make your love, home." It is the type of song you'd expect to hear backing a professional figure skater on a television special. However, it is performed and produced to perfection, and carries with it the same guilty pleasure as reading a romance novel. The balance of songs, mostly written by Payne and Omartian, border on bland and tend to bleed into each other, with the exception of the breezy light jazz of "The Moon" and "City Song," which captures the late-'70s/early-'80s soft rock ballad style of Michael McDonald or Christopher Cross. Overblown renditions of the classic pop tunes "If" (Bread) and "If You Leave Me Now" (Chicago) are surprising distractions and the album might have benefited by using Payne/Omartian compositions in their place -- perhaps a couple of playful melodies to thwart the tediousness of all the ballads. Payne's voice is a fine instrument that fits perfectly in this romantic setting. He's not as forceful or operatic as his contemporaries and his muted tone and shallow vibrato work in his favor, as he exudes a vulnerability that is less technical and more emotional. Despite the lack of sparkling material, Joshua Payne's voice and ability to create dreamy tunes are enough to win anyone over who may simply want to relax and enjoy what the title of one song suggests is "The Art of the Heart."

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