Contrary to the sound of it, Christabel and the Jons has nothing to do with any kind of late-night, back-seat exchanges of cash during an impromptu stop at a rest area. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Give a listen to the band’s new record, Custom Made for You, and you may find yourself marveling at the pristine subject matter, which goes hand in hand with the band’s down-home, 1930s, Tennessee swing chops and singer Christa DeCicco’s velvety delivery. Not a single offensive thing can be found on this record. It is truly pleasant. And therein lies the problem – I don’t love this record, and I don’t hate this record. I am entirely indifferent to it.
To be clear, this is not a band without talent, but neither is it clearly a band with talent. They seem to hold back so much that it’s hard to judge whether they’re shy or simply passionless. The melodies seem constrained, and DeCicco’s vocals – as pretty as they are – have an almost mechanical feel to them. Only once or twice does she allow her voice to get a little playful, and it’s those moments that hint at the possibility of something more. Unfortunately, as soon as she notices her voice beginning to soar, she locks it back up. Maybe they’re all afraid of rejection, but if they opened up just a little bit they might find that rejection is the last thing on any listener’s mind.
Christabel and the Jons play Flicker Theatre & Bar Friday, Apr. 24.
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