This local sextet has the influences down pat: Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, The Faces and Stone Roses are all incorporated into a well-produced, well-played concoction that is packed to the brim with hooks and sweat. Throw in a little Motown edge to Americanize the sound just enough and Shake Till I Let You Go, Greater Good's debut effort, appears to be on the cusp of greatness.
Yet something is amiss. Although his vocals drip authenticity, J.R. Denson's songs are more tribute than treasure, almost as if they were written for a Broadway play about the life of Ray Davies. The choruses sing out, the guitars ring with flair, the keyboard flourishes are tasteful; everything is in place, but nothing stands out as an original statement. Songs like "Hey Mister," "Hold On" and "Love 'Em and Leave 'Em" have energy to spare but are also painfully clichéd. You may not have heard this of late, but you've still heard it before.
Greater Good is one hell of a live act; six guys who bring a love of timeless music and an ultra-professional demeanor to just about any late-night extravaganza. But without the iconic flair of someone like Alex Chilton or Tommy Keene, music that simply apes greatness will never transcend its inspirations. Shake Till I Let You Go is immensely competent and imminently listenable, but its soul is a reproduction.
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