John Singer Sergeant is not a solo project. And yet, it’s not a full-band side-project, either. For John Dufilho (of I Love Math, The Deathray Davies and The Apples in Stereo), John Singer Sergeant is the culmination of years of hard work—writing, recording, playing all instruments, arranging and mixing. Except for the vocals. He enlisted his friends to do those. And judging by the musical guests that appear on the 14-track album, Dufilho has some pretty talented pals.
Will Johnson, Ben Kweller, Sir Earl Toon, Sarah Jaffe and Chris Walla are just some of the featured vocalists on John Singer Sergeant, but the record itself feels like it was made for personal fulfillment, rather than with commercial intent. John Singer Sergeant lacks cohesion—from the retro “Dizzy Joy” to the obnoxiously childlike “Birdy Num Num” to the brooding “Married to the Sea.” Taken individually, most songs on John Singer Sergeant are good, but rarely are they great. And as a whole, the LP simply amounts to a mishmash of technically proficient tunes.