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John Foltz: press

Album Reviews

 

Temecula resident John Foltz is a singer/songwriter keyboardist who makes pop, soul, and rock music built upon his jazzy piano stylings and delivered in a versatile tenor. He released an album in 2001, Indigo, and has played all over Southern California; his new disc is Grounded.

This disc offers a spectrum of musical styles from gospel to jazz and all shades in between, and Foltz shows a rare ability to compose music on many of the tracks that seems instantly memorable, without simultaneously mimicking a song previously recorded by someone else. Not that his influences can’t be heard in the sound – Billy Joel, Steve Winwood, and early Bruce Hornsby vibes are there, but Foltz cooks up a different rhythm pace and vocal arrangement to each tune so there is an eclectic feel to the project.

“One or the Other” kicks things off with a soulful slow-tempo jazzy pop tune, as Foltz gives the listener some social observation in a strong, soulful vocal wrapped in some of the best keyboard work on the disc. The gospel-R&B approach taken in “Got to Be Who I Am” is okay, although when Foltz adds some vocal affectations and tries for gospel shouting, it sounds like this just isn’t his real voice. Nice try, though. Next up, “This Is Where I Belong” sounds like a hit song from the golden age of ‘70s radio. Taking a nod from Billy Joel without stealing any riffs or melodies, this one is a keeper that will have the listener wanting more, and the next song delivers. “On My Way” works a different groove as more of a dance song, but is just as infectiously catchy; these two standout tracks alone make the disc well worthwhile, but there are plenty more coming.

The 13 songs feature unobtrusive lyrics about the trials and travails of daily life, relationships, and Foltz’s experiences. Nice production by Foltz, Alta Loma producer Lorenz, and San Diegan Sven-Erik Seaholm, and mixing by Seaholm help give each song a different texture, with horns, guitars, and string effects used well.

“Standing Still” starts slow and somber, another strong track that uses dark atmosphere as it builds to a string and guitar crescendo in one of Foltz’ strongest vocals on the album. Echoes of Joel definitely inhabit “Murmur,” though it clicks as an observational ballad. Likewise, Foltz’ tune to his kids, “All About You,” recalls early Elton John. “Live Love” is another one of those immediately memorable songs, this time using a style like Bruce Hornsby’s first few discs by rocking a keyboard riff and chorus hook to near perfection. After the slow, spare ballad “Done to You,” Foltz closes the disc out with another rocker, “Lost on Sunset” with a nifty bit of piano riffing.

Grounded is a very entertaining and solid recording by a talented musician who has found himself as a songwriter, with several outstanding songs. It will have the listener playing it again and again. 

 

This album definitely speaks of truth. With each note played on the piano, the intention of infecting people with the realities of everyday life is revealed. I found this album quite unpredictable, in a good way that is. When I read the title of a particular song, my brain instantly tries to create rhythms and melodies to match, but with this album, I am surprised by the stories told as each track moves to the next. It's a no nonsense album that attempts to reach you into your deepest parts.

The 13 tracks on the album display all the talents that a singer/songwriter should possess. His abilities on the keys and vocals along with the diverse selection of songs on the album, proves that Foltz is a man who truly grasps music and can't wait to get in your face to tell you all about it. This is definitely an album to add to your collection.