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Can You Hear Me

Keaton Simons

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Album Review

In 2004, Keaton Simons briefly looked like he might be about to compete with John Mayer on the basis of his debut EP, Currently, said to be the stalking horse for a full-length debut album on Maverick Records. But Maverick imploded, and the album went into the record business equivalent of turnaround, never appearing in record stores. Simons, in his mid-twenties, had the resources and connections to carry on and hope for the next opportunity, which came via the newly formed CBS Records, an arm of the CBS television network, which began placing songs from Can You Hear Me in its series prior to release. Listening to his music at the leisurely length of 39 minutes, it's easy to tell why Simons has had multiple chances to succeed. He clearly has absorbed many of the folk-rock styles of previous decades of pop music, and his predecessors come out in his own music, a bit of James Taylor here, a bit of Van Morrison there. The Mayer comparison is still valid, and on "Mama Song" one can even imagine him auditioning for the next lead singer opening in Little Feat. But as his twenties end, Simons still suffers from the young artist's dilemma; he is a stylist, but so far he continues to lack the substance to turn his influences into a style of his own. Can You Hear Me sounds good, but doesn't reward repeated listenings, because there isn't anything individual and compelling going on beneath the appealing surface. Keaton Simons eventually may develop into a significant singer/songwriter, but to do so he will have to find something of his own to say. For now, he's a talented dilettante, an engaging mimic who has yet to find his own voice.

Biography

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s

The bluesy singer/songwriter confessionals heard on Keaton Simons' first collection, Currently, barely hint at the varied depth of musicianship and experience that hide behind the music's relaxed demeanor. As a youngster growing up in the Los Angeles area, Simons had a natural flair for playing instruments, and by his early teens had already decided to pursue a career in music. In addition to co-founding the jazz-influenced group Nobody Knows, he took on gigs all over the city and eventually found...
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Can You Hear Me, Keaton Simons
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