Year of the Album — #001
Todd Alsup – “Todd Alsup”
MajorWho (2011) – Independent
Similar Albums: Regie Hamm – “American Dreams” (Universal, 2003)
Jon McLaughlin – “Indiana” (Island, 2007)
Hanson – “Shout It Out” (3CG, 2010)
There’s something really infectious about Todd Alsup’s music. Infectious enough that, despite not having a major label deal or any real push behind his music, he was able to draw high praise from blogger Bob Lefsetz and from Sirius / XM’s Larry Flick (who called Todd “a true contender!”) I’ve been following his music since he first released his debut, Facts and Figures, so it’s great to see a deserving artist actually getting the industry respect he’s been worthy of for years.
But the fact remains, his new self-titled album will be released on May 24th with Alsup still bubbling under the radar, and it would be a shame if most people aren’t going to get the chance to hear it. Songwriter Regie Hamm, who became famous years later for writing one of the many American Idol “winner’s songs,” produced one of the better pop albums of 2003, following a concept of traversing as many genres as it had songs, tying the subjects to life in modern-day America. In that vein, Todd Alsup also loves genre-hopping, and the album’s all the better for it. There’s something for everyone here, yet the album manages to remain cohesive due to his willingness to stick with his tried and true signature sound (which hearkens back to the soul of Stevie Wonder while adding the modern touches of Michael Bublé, Harry Connick, Jr., and (surprisingly) Shout It Out-era Hanson (horns abound, thank God!)
The album’s full of winning tracks. “Getting Gone” may be the most single-ready, with its addictive chorus brimming with alliteration and introspection: “She’s got a talent that’s unparalleled. She’s mastered moving on; she’s gotten good at getting gone.” We’ve all been in the situation he’s describing, being the one who picks up the pieces from someone we’ve loved who seems to be oblivious to anyone outside the self. The upbeat piano, drums and bass combo blends perfectly with Alsup’s strong vocals and the lifting background voices which help tie it all together.
“How I’m Made” is anthemic, and it’s easy to tell how it’s become a finalist in a major songwriting competition recently. The song would be one Michael Bublé or Jamie Cullum would kill to perform, as Alsup outlines his many faults, arguing that he can’t change how he’s been made … though his biggest fault is his inability to prevent his heart from being broken. “But my biggest fault is that I always give my heart too soon; I fell in love with you and I began to plan the honeymoon. And now look at me! I’m broken-hearted, I let myself get played … and you’d think that by now that I’ve have learned to protect myself from getting burned. Maybe one of these days I’ll finally make the grade!” It’s a song of honest introspection, but he’s not dwelling on what he cannot change. He’s claiming it as a badge of honor. I can picture this one becoming something Chris Colfer’s character could pull off nicely on Glee if given the chance – and boy wouldn’t that raise Alsup’s profile?
As I’ve said, there’s something for everyone here: the disco-groove of “The Only Thing” manages to sound authentic without becoming cloying (and according to Alsup’s latest press release, is destined to be his first big official single release, complete with a video, if fans can help raise funds via a Kickstarter project). I could see the song playing in a disco mix with classics of the genre without sounding out of place. “The Way It Goes” pulls off straightforward soul with aplomb, managing to make a really downbeat message (“that’s just the way it goes”) without losing its groove. And “I Feel” sounds like it could have been a missing track from Maroon 5’s latest album, with Alsup truly sounding like he’s unstoppable and on top of the world.
Put it all together and you’ve got an infectious party album which manages to be both modern and a throwback to an era when album pop was more than just a collection of auto-tuned singles. It’s the first independent album of 2011 I can fully and wholeheartedly put my critical support behind, and for fans of great pop music you’re not going to go wrong buying this album. Trust me, it’s a keeper. And Todd Alsup’s bound to be a household name if he can just continue to build the momentum he’s taken into the new year.
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Review Updated: 02/24/2010 — now includes new release date
information as well as a link to the Kickstarter campaign to help produce a
music video for “The Only Thing”
Find out more at Todd’s website: http://www.toddalsup.com