Half Dozen

Evan And Jaron

Twelve Between Us Records, 2004


REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


The music business is a pretty interesting place these days. Not that there aren't still plenty of prefab quote-unquote stars running around living off image rather than talent -- always have been, probably always will be -- but the ones who are both talented and smart are more and more often these days striking out on their own and finding new ways to connect with their audiences.

A "cute twin brothers" act with a top 40 hit under their belts might not be the first ones you'd think would go this route -- but then Evan and Jaron Lowenstein have always been a lot more than that. Both write, both sing, both play multiple instruments, and on their 2000 self-titled hit album for Sony, both showed that the magnificent four-minute hook that was "Crazy For This Girl" was just the beginning of what they were capable of musically.

Sometime in the long stretch between Evan And Jaron and the emergence a few weeks ago of this six-song EP of new material (with three previously issued bonus tracks), the boys turned their backs on their major-label contract and took control of their own destiny. It must irk the Sony suits no end to see the guys selling this disc for a paltry $5.98 (and, no doubt, collecting a much bigger chunk of that than their old contract allowed). It must piss them off even more to realize that this is probably Evan and Jaron's best work to date.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The difference is maturity. Yes, the boys are still fabulous players whose voices blend like soft butter, the music is still clean-cut, appealing mainstream rock, and the production is still crisp and full. But this is a grown-up and slightly darker E&J record, full of songs about break-ups instead of crushes, with hooks that are less obvious and lyrics that are more and more rewarding.

The range is greater, too. "Standing In The Middle" and "What She Likes" are both engagingly upbeat pop-rock, but there's just a hint of a country lilt to both the tempo and the lyrics. "Standing In The Middle" in particular broadcasts right off the bat that this isn't going to be six tries at a sequel to "Crazy For This Girl," with its thoughtful narrative about a couple who "find new ways to fight about the weather." There are some great lines in here, including the observation that "who you are isn't who you said" and this sharp half a chorus: "You call your mother; I write a song / We've come to agree that we can't get along / Why can't I say goodbye?"

Other notable developments include the orchestra-and-piano intro and tasty guitar solo on the steady-building ballad "Through The Blue" ("I smile sometimes through the blue for you / Even though I know you're a million miles away") and the beefy guitars-and-harmonies arrangement on the closing "All That I Wanted."

The bonus tracks are pulled from E&J's early (pre-self-titled) days and provide a nice glimpse at their evolution from a coffee-house acoustic duo to the masters of their own destiny. They're filler, of course, but interesting filler at least.

Hopefully the arrival of Half Dozen heralds at least three things -- a new full-length album, the increasing freedom of artists to forge their own connections with their audience, and the re-emergence of Evan and Jaron as the chart presence they deserve to be. At $5.98 a pop, they really ought to sell about a zillion of these.

Rating: A-

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© 2004 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Twelve Between Us Records, and is used for informational purposes only.