(ReviewYou.com staff writer)
Dropjaw is able to produce the sounds of various different genres of music pretty well. This is heard quite readily on the opening track, “True Love.” The Latin jazz vibe kicks in almost immediately and maintains a tight groove throughout. Dropjaw’s voice can in some ways, be compared to Michael Jackson. He has some strikingly similar tonal qualities that he uses to good effect here. The various keyboard sounds combine with the bass and percussion to cement the atmosphere and keep the song moving at a brisk pace.
Changing things up, “Right Here and Now” adopts a funkier keyboard melody and more kicking drum track, turning into a kind of Stevie Wonder tribute. The chorus is intensely catchy, due in no small part to the overdubbing of vocals during the chorus. Dropjaw makes room for a quick guitar solo in the last third of the song and even though it’s nothing to write home about, it does add a little something extra to the track. There is however a faux horn sound that he utilizes which sounds tolerable in the mix.
This comes up again in “Honestly.” A bulk of this number is exceptionally well written and crafted. The piano styled keyboards push forward a moving, rolling melody and Dropjaw’s lyrics flow remarkably well along with it. Again, a brisk and crisp drum performance holds down a steady rhythm to pull everything together with the vocals being poppy enough to sing along with without sacrificing their emotional bend. Mixed in there are blasts from the synth horns as those on the aforementioned track which seem distracting.
Then there is the transition to a more rock oriented tone on “Dirty Little Secret.” Dropjaw employs a heavier guitar and drum sound, both of which are used extremely well. The chorus is extremely catchy, but the verses lack the grit that is inherent within the lyric. A man desires to be open with the relationship he’s in though the woman treats him as a titular, “Dirty Little Secret.” There should be some heightened emotion in Dropjaw’s voice but there’s not. Still, the song is quite infectious.
More suited to this vocal style is a track like “Going Crazy.” While not as heavy as “Dirty Little Secret” it still features a pronounced bassline, rattling guitars, and a number of quality drum fills. The pop elements are more developed here, resulting in a more of a natural fit for the record.
The remainder of the album is a series of slower, emotional ballads. These can be a mixed bag of sorts but none of them are poorly performed or constructed. “One Moment In Time” for example is a sweetly sung piece with a number of melodic keyboard tones and a soft brushes drum track to enhance the calm, pleasant nature of the song. Instrumentation like this demonstrates that Dropjaw can inject something into a song to give it a special feel. Then, something like the ‘90s R&B styled “Let Me Love You” is pleasant and warm.
Droptical Illusions is a better than average collection of songs that display a great amount of talent within their composer and performer, Dropjaw Bertone. Dropjaw’s work is dynamic, varied, and entertaining. The slower songs could make or break the album for some listeners, but there’s still no denying how well-crafted many of them are. Most impressive is that this is an entirely self-contained effort; all of this is from the mind and hands of Dropjaw Bertone, and the job he does putting everything together is an accomplishment in itself.
Review by: Heath Andrews