Jadewood, In These Walls

Jadewood, In These Walls

Back in 2004, three local Houstonians were fortuitously brought together in one of their personal homes to experimentally mesh their musical talents for the day. As a result, the band Jadewood was born, and the group has kept this name ever since then to remind them of the humble beginnings on Jadewood Street in Houston’s rough-and-tumble, humidity-infested atmosphere. After a couple of attempts at recording and marketing self-released EPs, bandsmen Elias Sanchez (lead vocals/guitars), Saul Sanchez (backup vocals/bass), and Lee Cerda (drums) returned to the studio to produce their first full-blown album in 2008, In These Walls. The CD title is meant to symbolically envision the close-quartered room that they initially practiced in, and what transpired within those walls is showcased in the band’s debut.

The compilation of songs joined together on this CD is a full-dozen quality set worthy of your listening time. Characteristically, the band’s influences range widely, from alternative grunge to classic rock to even moments with a somewhat seventies-accoustic-folk-pop feel. For the most part, the combined album comes across with a sound reminiscent of Lifehouse, a favorite band that the group often pays tribute to in cover songs during live performances. It’s a thoroughly melodious offering, filled with light-to-moderate acoustic-based alt-rock leanings and garnished with a considerable amount of catchy lyrical phrasing.

The harmonies cast in this mix are truly beautiful. Elias Sanchez performs many vocal sections in very talented fashion. Despite a slightly pinched-off, relatively nasal quality throughout, his voices combines with that of Saul Sanchez to form a unique meld, kind of like Seals & Croft did years ago. It all comes off sounding a bit different, but with a magnetic sort of uniqueness. Hey, if slightly different voices worked for Tom Petty, Neil Young, and Bob Dylan, then why not Jadewood? Both vocally and instrumentally, the band exudes a wonderful chemistry together.

The first two songs on the album, “All Along” and “Beautiful,” are radio-friendly cuts seemingly targeted toward alternative-pop audiences. As with most of the tracks, the lyrics are geared either toward upbeat, positive-attitude themes or explorations of the timeless lover’s lament. The latter of these two definitely displays the group’s penchant for taking a smooth and rudimentary legato style and dressing it up masterfully with simple but intuitive poetic thoughts. One of the most attractive elements of Jadewood is the way they creatively capture and describe a combination of natural human instincts and retrospective insights in very open, unguarded, and almost adolescent purity of terms. They use an unabashed, unveiled naïveté to stylishly exhibit many of the more secretive qualities subconsciously masked within each one of us. I really admire their ability to tenderly open up the chamber of the soul and poetically reveal the affairs of the heart and mind.

To my ear, the best stuff comes a bit past the mid-album point. “Stranger” is an acoustic-backed piece with a great chorus section, one that I found to be the most memorable from the collection. The addition of an extended bridge and atmospheric supplements of instrumentation give it a very pleasing, lighter-sided Creed resonance. Its companion number, “Survive,” veers slightly more toward a Three Doors Down string-picking base, embellished artistically with wafting two-part harmony and virtual orchestration in the background.

My personal favorite, though, is “Misery.” It’s one of the songs on the disc that departs markedly from swathing soul-soothes to produce a set of rather haunted strains of minor-effected chord patterning that gradually builds into a percussive chorus filled with yearning-soaked vocals. The lyrical theme involves a self-realization of the effects of a destructive relationship and how its possible unintentional nature on one side doesn’t necessarily quash the questionings of sanity in view of the resulting misery produced. The intro wording is impeccable: “Just once I’d like to hear the sound of my own voice / Instead I’m overwhelmed by the noise / This darkness is upon me and I’m right within its sight / It’s killing me inside / I’m not ok, I’m not ok / With what you’ve done to me.”

If your taste includes lighter alternative or moderate alt-pop and runs to the likes of Lifehouse, Vertical Horizon, Three Doors Down, or many of the ’90s groups like the Gin Blossoms, then you’ll probably enjoy giving Jadewood a listen.

(self-released; Jadewood -- http://www.jadewoodmusic.com/)

Review by . Review posted Friday, October 31st, 2008. Filed under Reviews.

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