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Ours "Precious"

Best Rock Album

The following was originally published in our Melody Makers section. 

Review by Keavin Wiggins
New Jersey, which gave us Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi, has another notable native son who has had more than his fair share of critical praise. I’m talking about Jimmy Gnecco, the man behind the band Ours, whose second full length album, “Precious,” was released earlier this month on DreamWorks Records. 

 Let’s get this out in the open, right here at the beginning; I’m one of those who consider Gnecco a brilliant songwriter and singer. He has an unmistakable ear for crafting unforgettable melodies and also providing music with a lot of passion and power. Vocally, you will often hear comparisons drawn between Gnecco and the late Jeff Buckley (who in fact has been accused of co-opting Jay Buchanan – you’ll hear more about him in ’03). There is a striking similarity between Buckley and Gnecco, especially on the slower tracks from Ours, but they really come from different places musically and that sets them apart from each other.  That being said, Gnecco is one of the best vocalists on the scene at the moment. He has an unbelievable range that he fully utilizes, but where it could come off like he is showing off his talent, his vocal gymnastics instead fit right in character with the music. 

There are some slower songs on this disc that are real showcases for Gnecco’s vocals, and yes they do strike a similar chord as Buckley’s music, but for the most part Ours rocks on the majority of the tracks on “Precious,” so the Buckley comparisons end there. In fact, this album falls somewhere between the likes of Radiohead and Vast, with a retro leaning. On the rockier numbers, Gnecco sounds a lot like another Orange County native, Wonderlove’s Chris Paul Overall, another stellar vocalist who is primed to hit the big time. 

This is one of those albums where you have to listen to it several times to fully recognize its brilliance. True, it grabs your attention the first time through, but there is so much depth to the music here that you discover additional subtle nuances with each subsequent listen. 

 This album goes against the conventional wisdom that major labels are afraid to release music with substance in this day and age. Yes, for the most part, label’s take the easy road and fill the airwaves and charts with cookie-cutter--flash in the pan acts, but this album goes quite a long way in restoring my faith that there are indeed some A&R types out there scouting for exceptional music that can elevate the music scene to a level of excellence above the lackluster shallowness of the current mainstream.  You may have to look a little harder for the good stuff these days, but it is out there and “Precious” fits the bill nicely. 

If you haven't figured it out by now, I'll break it down for you; this album is a definite highlight of 2002 and should please even the most selective audiophile. 

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