John Common has been compared to everyone from Radiohead and Wilco to the Rolling Stones and Neil Young. And although Radiohead, in particular, has become a far-too fashionable card to play these days, there’s no denying Common has certain key ingredients in common with these artists — namely a keen melodic sense and the requisite ability to take the basic pop formula and turn it on its head.
The mix of goodies on his new release, Good To Be Born, bring together a host of elements and styles that, although diverse, avoid the abrasion that many artists suffer when trying to blend too much. “Coming In For A Landing” marries the organic (acoustic guitars) with the electronic (glitch beats and synths), making for one of the album’s standout tunes that takes its cues from Björk and finds itself in similar territory as Bergen, Norway artists Sondre Lerche and Magnet.
Common is at his finest on songs like “Other Side Of Town” and “Call Me Right Now,” when he gives his vocal range the freedom to find his inner Jeff Buckley. Of course, no pop album is complete without potent hooks and harmonies, and with gems like “Anyway,” “And Say My Goodbyes” and “My Heart Is A Wurlitzer,” Common brings those elements along with stellar keys and enough dynamics to make Jellyfish and Bleu proud.
Speaking of pride, the blossoming Denver scene should be plenty proud to have Common in its quiver of emerging artists.