Jackson Harris - Sharks and Vampires
Record Label: 77 East Records
Release Date: Feb. 11, 2014
These days, anyone can be a star. Jump on YouTube, post an original video, attract hordes of followers and voila, your stardom is born. If it all sounds that easy, that’s because it is. Jackson Harris, a New York City-based singer-songwriter certainly understands the above statement, as he’s amassed 3.5 million views for his videos, despite not having a major label behind him.
Perhaps he should. Exhibit A is his latest effort Sharks and Vampires.
Whether its the sun-drenched opener “Come Back Down to Earth” or the synth-driven “Gone in a Heartbeat,” the disc opens with polished, inoffensive radio pop. For those wanting something more guitar-driven, the rousing “Down With the Ship” is a rollicking good time. Proving that he's more than just one radio ditty, the sun-drenched vibe of “Come Back Down to Earth” returns on the effervescent “Growin’ Up To Do.” Not content to slow down the pace, Harris comes out firing on the soaring “Right Kind of Wrong,” a guitar-driven slice of harmless teen-pop that seems to point towards a future on radio. Ditto for the spiky and caffeinated “Ready or Not.”
Walls of synths return for the 80s-tinged “Miss Me,” a serviceable effort that does little to delineate the song from the rest of the disc but also doesn’t exactly drown itself out ether. Sharks and Vampires closes with the electro-tinged “Mirror Mirror” an urban duet featuring Canadian vocalist Vita Chambers. Of all the songs on the disc, none are executed as perfectly as this one. Whether its the strength of Chambers, the power of the duet or just the effortlessness of the track, “Mirror Mirror” is terrific from start to finish.
Now for the bad news. Every single song on Sharks and Vampires suffers from some of the worst lyrics ever put to pen. There's bad, there's laughably bad and then there's Sharks and Vampires. That combined with the analogousness of the entire effort and Harris has proved that, well, he’s got quite a bit of work to do before that major label comes calling. Given how easy those two mistakes can be corrected, there’s a decent chance that Harris may leave a dent on the pop charts in the very near future. After all, he definitely knows how to write a hook. At the same time, it’s time to call a spade a spade: Sharks and Vampires is easily digestible cookie-cutter pop that does little to distance itself from its influences and does even less to leave the listener wanting more. Listen at your own risk.