From the first notes of the opening track of Joe Con’s new EP, I Choose You, you get a feel of who he is and the environment that shaped him: a relaxed, fun guy who has spent hours on Venice Beach’s California coast. Most of the songs on this six-track EP are fun to listen to, featuring laid-back folk-meets-hip-hop tracks like the fun opener “Nothing Without You”, the curious mix of hope and despair in “Dream”, the radio-friendly “Said and Done”, and the potential beach anthem that is “I Choose You”. The artist steps away from this formula into soft rock territory with the fourth track, “Breaking My Heart”, an apt choice because of the subject of the song, and with the folk rock closing “Matter of Time”. This change in style towards the end of the EP is both disappointing for those who want to hear more of the same, and a great way to make the entire release stickier because of the unexpected direction Con took.
The two tracks that stand out the most are “Nothing Without You” and “Said and Done”. The latter, the beat of which is established and sustained by a piano, is an upbeat track with simple instrumentation that allows the listener to enjoy Con’s vocals and lyrics. The way he raps is both loose and relaxed while remaining firmly on track. “Said and Done”, a guitar-driven tune, features a harmonica alongside Con’s hip-hop flavoured lyrics, which adds the note of folk that makes his sound unique. The music is done in a way that allows for a great blend of melodies with vocals, making this song very radio-friendly, a great track to lead listeners from lunch back to the flow of work.
I Choose You, put together with the help of Ian Stone on the drums, Mike Navarrete on bass, Drew Kapner on the keyboard, and Chelsea Scala adding a layer of vocals, is an interesting listen and bound to draw loyal fans searching for a laid-back, unique, clean take on hip-hop. And with his first songs having been released in 2005, it looks like Con is far from done writing music.
Pictures provided by Joe Con’s official website.