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OK Now

4.5 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

OK Now is the 2008 second full-length studio album by American singer-songwriter Jon McLaughlin. OK Now was preceded by the Electropop-influenced first single, "Beating My Heart", in July 2008. Released digitally in June 2008, the single charted in August 2008, and climbed its way up to number 27 on Billboard's Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks. Synthesizers introduce "You Are the One I Love," a song Jon co-wrote with Jason Reeves, inspired by the tabloid reports about Amy Winehouse's stormy relationship with her husband Blake that shows an empathy to the beleaguered pair. The multi-layered production is driven home by Peter Gabriel-like tribal drum rhythms.

About the Artist

"It's like who am I and why am I here?" "Beating My Heart" A great deal has happened to Jon McLaughlin between the release of his debut Island Records album INDIANA last year, and his new, sophomore effort, OK NOW.

When we last saw him, the 25-year-old singer/songwriter was giving a show-stopping performance of the Oscar-nominated "So Close," the song he sang in the hit Disney movie Enchanted, on the worldwide telecast of the 80th Annual Academy Awards ceremony.

The appearance re-ignited INDIANA, spurring a 1,514% overnight sales increase at Amazon, sending it to the #1 spot on its Movers & Shakers chart, and creating solid momentum for his latest release. The single from INDIANA, "Beautiful Disaster" attracted over 420,000 digital fans when featured as Download of The Week.

And after getting major touring slots with Sara Bareilles, Paolo Nutini and Kelly Clarkson, along with dates with Colbie Caillat, Duffy and One Republic under his belt, Jon McLaughlin hit his stride on the road.

Flushed with that success, McLaughlin entered an L.A. recording studio last year intent on undergoing both a musical and stylistic transformation. The heartland piano player expanded his palette by working with new producer John Fields (Rooney, Jonas Brothers, Lifehouse, Switchfoot), co-writing with the likes of Jason Reeves (Colbie Callait's "Bubbly") as well as writer/producers Tricky and The-Dream (Rihanna's "Umbrella"), Troy Verges (Kenny Chesney's "You Save Me") and Brett James (Carrie Underwood's "Jesus, Take The Wheel").

McLaughlin admits the experience of appearing in Enchanted and performing on the Oscar telecast was a career-defining moment.

"The whole thing has taken on a life of its own," he says. "I wasn't even supposed to be in the movie. I love Disney ballads, but I didn't necessarily connect it to what I do as an artist. But that image of an old-school crooner inspired me. I was able to see myself as something different, which helped me open up to try new things on this album. I wasn't afraid to try on some new looks, either."

Jon describes himself as a "child of the `80s" in talking about the musical direction of OK NOW, with the very first single "Beating My Heart" the perfect example, an introspective, existential tune about nothing less than the meaning of life, with an elaborate pop-rock production that evokes Coldplay, thanks to soaring synths and a crackling backbeat.

With producer Fields playing bass, drums, slide guitar and a variety of other instruments, McLaughlin also enlisted the talents of ace players such as guitarists Tim Pierce and David Ryan Harris, as well as drummer Dorian Crozier in the studio.

Jon describes "You Can Never Go Back," which he co-wrote with acclaimed L.A. singer/songwriter Bleu, as his attempt to write a "late-`70s, early-`80s Billy Joel song," an admonition to not dwell on the past that evokes the blue-eyed soul of the Bee Gees crossed with Hall and Oates, buttressed by Fields' George Harrison-like slide guitar riffs.

McLaughlin's soul/R&B croon also characterizes "Things That You Say," a bittersweet song about "loneliness, the isolation you feel when you're trying to connect with anybody, but end up with these shallow, going-through-the-motions relationships instead."

Synthesizers introduce "You Are the One I Love," a song Jon co-wrote with Jason Reeves, inspired by the tabloid reports about Amy Winehouse's stormy relationship with her husband Blake that shows an empathy to the beleaguered pair. The multi-layered production is driven home by Peter Gabriel-like tribal drum rhythms.

"I feel for them," McLaughlin admits. "Who's to say any of our relationships are any less dysfunctional? I think it's cool that they're so madly in love."

"The Middle" is about being able to take the Hoosier kid out of Indiana, but not being able to take Indiana out of the Hoosier. The youngster who grew up in a conservative Midwestern household admits home is where his heart still remains: "Let me tell you now where I went wrong/Hollywood is just another place/I don't belong."

"Four Years" is another Billy Joel-style, tongue-in-cheek take on a `50s rocker about high school peer pressure that advises freshmen not to worry about the dictates of fashion.

"You just spend so much time worrying about stupid stuff that just doesn't matter," says McLaughlin, who insists his own high school years were pretty good. "I wish I could get back all the money I spent on Abercrombie and Fitch back then. If I heard this song when I was still in high school, I still don't think it would change anything. You can't change high school kids' minds about these things...but I'm still going to try."

"We All Need Saving," a song about the importance of friendship, starts with a stack of Beach Boys-styled street corner doo-wop oooh-oooh harmonies McLaughlin recorded late one night on Garageband.com, which gives the song its sacred feel, while "Throw My Love Around" counsels that, with only one life left to live, it's preferable to take risks then end up having regrets.

That same spirit of taking chances informed the making of OK NOW.

"My philosophy has changed," nods McLaughlin. "Now I believe you should get crazy in the studio, explore different sounds, and I love the challenge of recreating the songs in the live setting -that's the best part."

OK NOW is OK to go.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 7, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Island Records
  • ASIN: B001AX9DRC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,448 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

By A. Yunker on October 10, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Quite often when I buy a new cd it will take me more than a day to get through. There's couple reasons for that. 1. I'm too busy to listen to it straight though. 2. Some songs just really turn me off to it. This album however was the complete opposite... I ran to my room and listened to it straight through 2 times. Each song intriguing me. I'd have to say my least favorite song would have to be Beating My Heart, but that's not to say I don't like it. However I find with many albums, the truly good songs are the unreleased ones. My personnal favorite is Four Years followed closely by Dance Your Life Away. Four Years made me cry the first time I listened to it. It's had the same effect on a lot of my friends. And "Dance" was just such a fun song. I'm not saying that Dance could be considered a masterpiece, but so often masterpieces do nothing for me. I can enjoy a simple, happy song, and that's what "Dance" is. A song slimply celebrating life. I could sit here and type my praise of each song, but I'll let you make you own decision. But I will say one thing, just like his last album, not one song is like another which to me makes a good album, and a good artist. Variety
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I can't remember the last time I was so excited about a secular artist releasing a new CD. I must say after listening to Jon McLaughlin's lastest effort, I am not disappointed. It is somewhat different sounding from his last CD, Indiana, so it is hard for me to pick a favorite between the two. It is a hard choice, but my favorite track is the final one on the CD. The song about dancing is really the only one I'm not particularly fond of. I look forward to what Jon does musically in the future. I just hope he keeps on his current track and keeps it rated G!
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I bought Indiana about a year and a half ago, and I was quickly captivated by Jon McLaughlin's upbeat piano and introspective lyrics, reminiscent of Billy Joel and Ben Folds. However, this new album is too slickly produced for me to love it in the same way. It's no accident that the "customers also purchased" albums that Amazon shows are largely from "American Idol" products, because this album has the same saccharine quality. Jon's talent is sadly obscured by gooey dance-pop stylings here. When I was listening to "Dance Your Life Away," my husband actually thought it was a Justin Timberlake song! Not good at all. I'm as sentimental as they come and I found a few of these songs ("You Are the One I Love," "Four Years") to be unbearably corny.

There are some great songs on this album ("Why I'm Talking To You" has an awesome old-school R&B feel, and "Things That You Say" combines a soaring melody with poignant lyrics), hence the three-star rating. But I hope that with his next album, Jon strips things down and goes back to showcasing his talent on the piano. I saw him recently in concert and it was a great experience - he's a great performer who knows how to get the crowd going. I would love for him to put out a live album.
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2007's Indiana, Jon's first major label debut was simply a masterpiece that can be pretty much played front to back with little hassle. Piano work was quite exquisite, the lyrics were more than solid and the production was good, although a bit heavy-handed at times. There are very, very few things to complain about it and I will probably continue to listen to it on and off years from now.

OK Now is somewhat of a different affair. These songs overall are more poppy and upbeat and seem to be more tailor-made for big stadiums and such. Jon's vocals this time around are a lot more sensual at times. I don't know where that came from (maybe his wife recommended it or something) but for the most part, it works. The lyrics while good, take a small backseat to Indiana because they are less serious and a lot less angsty. I actually love serious lyrics to a song and there are only a handful of really serious tunes here. And although they are good, they aren't as good as the best songs on the first disc. Don't get me wrong--there is a time and place for fun songs as Rihanna's "What's My Name" is probably one of my favorite upbeat songs of the moment--I just feel that Jon's calling if you will, is when his lyrics have more of a serious tone and the piano work is at the forefront. You get the latter in doses.

All in all, this sophomore effort is still quite worth it just to get more Jon.
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Jon McLaughlin has amazed me. From being a nobody with his first album Indiana, which turned into an overnight success, to this new album OK Now, he now has had phenomenal success doing opening acts for famous musicians, small concerts, and solo performances all over the USA.

In this latest album, he shows us again how talented he is, writing a lot about personal experiences and his love for his home Indiana, in the song The Middle. You think that there's so much you can do with piano rock, but think again, Jon dazzles you again with his jazz number Why I'm Talking To You, and other songs with influences from Harry Connick Jr and Billy Joel.

Jon has now placed himself as upcoming artiste along the same lines as Jason Mraz, Gavin DeGraw and James Morisson. Not yet to Grammy acclaim like John Mayer, but there is no doubt that if he goes on like this, he will get a Grammy for one of his albums. Already his song from the Disney movie Enchanted, So Close, was nominated for a Grammy for best original song.

I look forward to your concerts and inspirational music Jon!
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