Joe Firstman inconsistent on debut CD

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Singer/songwriter Joe Firstman offers personal reflections on his debut CD, The War Of Women. The 23-year-old Charlotte, N.C., native crafts his diverse 15-track release by fusing Southern soul with folky rock.

Although Firstman is skilled at a variety of instruments, he emphasizes piano and acoustic guitar to create a crisp, uncluttered sound. It would be difficult to compare him to any modern musicians, but his style is reminiscent of ’70s artists Bob Seger and Rod Stewart.

Firstman gained some local media attention when he opened for Jewel at the Coronado Theatre March 17.

Firstman wrote or co-wrote all of the album’s songs, and also co-produced the effort. Because of this, there is a genuine earnestness that is seldom seen in today’s music.

The undeniable standout, “Now You’re Gorgeous, Now You’re Gone,” is a piano-driven track that ranges from mellow introspection to a desperate longing as Firstman laments lost love and subsequent regrets.

“Can’t Stop Loving You” is another highlight that showcases his talent for combining simple, catchy melodies with heartfelt lyrics.

Firstman sounds the best when he allows his music to flow and naturally take its course. At these moments, his passion for music becomes apparent, and the result is a beautiful display of raw emotion. Unfortunately, he often tries too hard and ends up with formulaic songs that are as forgettable as the next calculated pop track.

“Saving All The Love” is supposed to be a slow, romantic ballad, but it soon descends into a sappy rant with cringe-inducing lines like “I’m saving all the love that I’m supposed to give to Jesus so I can give it all to you.” Additionally, the country-tinged “Savannah” is almost painful to listen to when Firstman struggles to hit high notes that are out of his range.

He does show promise on “After Los Angeles,” an unvarnished account of his West Coast experiences, until he begins screaming obscenities at the song’s conclusion. This outburst only shows us that he does, in fact, know how to swear. It adds nothing to the emotional impact and seems out of place for such a mellow song.

Nevertheless, Firstman has potential and should be recognized for his refreshing style. Hopefully, his next album will be more consistent than The War Of Women.

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