It’s probably not easy growing up in the shadow of a famous parent, but maybe if that parent is known for belting out the ultimate 80s rebellion song, “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” it might not be so bad. Jesse Blaze Snider already boasts a successful career writing and performing, doing voice overs for television and (possibly but he won’t confirm) video games, and raising a family of little Sniders in LA. Now he’s poised to release his first full-length solo album 16, and at 16 songs, it is indeed full length. Snider kicks off 16 with “Shut Up,” a brilliant blues infused tune that displays the vocal range Snider possesses, from his growling low register to the soothing side of his higher tones. It’s an entirely unique song with a catchy intro and an irresistible melody, a perfect introduction to Snider’s songwriting abilities.
From here though, 16 gets a bit confusing.
There are radio-friendly ballads with approachable lyrics and singable melodies like “When You Love Someone,” and “Go With Me,” the later of which could easily be the finale battle song for any of the vocal reality shows. Then there are the songs that are clearly inspired by Snider’s father’s generation of rock, such as “Credits Role” and “Lost And Found.” “Hide Smart” and “Bullet” seem to channel Nine Inch Nails, while “Pushin’ It” is clearly influenced by Led Zeppelin, right down to Snider’s soaring vocals, and the feedback fadeout. Perhaps most baffling are pop tunes “Crank It Up” (it’s Britney, bitches), “More Where You Came From,” and “Got Your Number,” which sounds like the perfect Katy Perry vehicle, with it’s “ooohs” in the background and it’s chugging melody. All that’s missing is Jesse spelling out “N-U-M-B-E-R.” With such a mashup of genres, I can’t help wondering if Snider is launching himself as a solo artist, or producing a catalogue of solid work to present to other recording artists.
Along with opening track “Shut Up,” there are a few stand out songs that seem to hold the promise of who Jesse Blaze Snider is as a solo artist. “Wickedly Wild” has a high energy intro that drops back to a 4/4 drum beat, providing a foundation for Snider to drop lyrics alongside a dirty southern bass line. That scene in the movies where the girls are two-stepping on the bar top, and then the drunk boyfriend in the corner takes a swing at the patron who just touched his girl’s leg? “Wickedly Wild” is the song playing in the background. The last track, “Twisted” (the irony is not lost on you, right?) is also one of the better songs on the LP, but to be honest, by the time you make your way out of the Jesse Blaze Snider musical genre maze, you’re almost too disoriented to appreciate it.
Taken as a whole, 16 has something for everyone, so it may not actually be for everyone. If you have broad musical tastes, you’ll appreciate Snider’s ability to take on any musical styling with ease. There is a confidence in him that has allowed him to produce a collection of well-crafted tunes spanning multiple generations and genres. I understand why Snider is putting out 16 songs on a CD titled 16, releasing 9/16/16, but I can’t help wishing he’d picked his six best tunes and released them as an EP on the 6th instead. Regardless, there are some shining songs on 16 that are must listens, and you can listen to 16 in its entirety right now at jesseblaze.com. Connect with Jesse at ReverbNation, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you happen to be in LA on 9/16, purchase tickets to his album release party and check out 16 live, perhaps the way it’s supposed to be experienced. Just maybe steer clear of the bar, and watching for flying fists and articles of clothing.