A declaration of independence that betrays growing pains
On his latest long-player, the one-time Great White Hope of AOR pop begins by insisting “This will be the last song that I write,” while pounding out an aggressive acoustic strum. This song of resolution, ?ttingly titled “Mister New Year’s Day,” plays right into the backstory that accompanies the disc: after a crisis of purpose, Joplin refocused his muse to pursue a more organic approach to his music. Indeed, the production is refreshingly spare and direct, with Joplin exploring more introspective themes throughout. There are times when the new suit hangs somewhat awkwardly, as on the self-consciously self-aware “The World on a Shoestring” and “To All My Friends.” But he still displays a gift for bright hooks, as on “Arms To Hold Me” and the fun “Jaywalkers of the World.” Ultimately, Jaywalker is the sound of an artist struggling to truly ?nd his voice, which in itself is commendable, if not entirely satisfying.