good pop from a young newcomer

Tony Vincent (Star Song)
Tony Vincent

By Robert Gruber

Tony Vincent is unashamedly pop -- "100% pop," he likes to say. Not "power-pop" or "alterna-pop," or any of the so-called "cool" kinds of pop flooding the airwaves these days. Vincent's pop is more like the stuff that was hot in the '80s, when groups like Wham!, O.M.D., and Tears For Fears dominated radio and MTV.

Please understand something: his eponymous debut is quite completely cool in my book. From end to end, this is one extremely solid piece of work, especially when one realizes that Tony Vincent is only 21 years old. And while there are sounds on this disc that remind me of certain "totally '80s" hits, they are mere brush strokes, enjoyable and sweet -- like a breeze that blows a familiar fragrance through an open window.

Part of the reason for this album's retro-'80s bent could be that it's co-produced by Brent Bourgeois. Once a part of the band Bourgeois Tagg, Bourgeois was a seminal figure in '80s pop music. Now, having successfully moved into the contemporary Christian realm, Bourgeois has applied his craftsman-like touch to Tony Vincent, co-writing with Vincent on almost every song.

Though marketed toward the teenage crowd (having spent much of last year touring with the Newsboys), Tony Vincent possesses a maturity that should put him in a different class altogether. Songs like "Far Cry," "Must Be the Season" and "Holiday" (written by Mike Roe of the 77s) have a depth and a seriousness to them that are pleasantly surprising. Even "High," a bouncy, Beatlesque-cum-PFR rocker, has the kind of jazzy, swingtime chorus that Roland Orzabal would die (or maybe get saved) for. And "Shake the Money Tree," driven by a funky Moog bass on the verses, sounds like a song Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney could have written if they'd have gotten serious just one time together.

There's not an ounce of CCM cheese to be found anywhere on Tony Vincent, and in these fat-conscious times, that's a real blessing. Vincent shows a talent that, as accomplished as it is right now, should be utterly phenomenal down the road a ways.