Heath Andrews' review of Droptical Illusions
(ReviewYou.com staff writer)

Ever since‭ ‬2005,‭ ‬Gainesville, Florida’s Dropjaw Bertone has been independently recording and releasing albums of his own material.‭ ‬His multi-instrumental talents are put to the task as he performs all the parts himself.‭ ‬His‭ ‬2013‭ ‬album‭ ‬Droptical Illusions‭ ‬is a fine continuation of that trend,‭ ‬demonstrating his aptitude as a songwriter on his 15th solo album.

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
Rating:‭ ‬3.5‭ ‬Stars‭ (‬out of‭ ‬5‭)