Sparkle and Shine, the latest album by Jonny Kaplan and The Lazy Stars, transported me back to my childhood where I would spend hours camped out in the den rummaging through my siblings’ vinyls. Who says a five year old can’t appreciate CCR and Three Dog Night? My love for music began in those records. It is rare these days to find a singer/songwriter like Jonny who is comparable to the classic greats.
Merging a variety of genres from good old fashioned rock and roll to Americana, with hints of country and folk, this album taps into our heart and soul. Start to finish it is a trip down memory lane for both Jonny and the listener. We find ourselves on an alluring voyage as we become haunted by the sultry resonance of Sparkle and Shine.
Every album has a story to tell and this one is no exception. Birthed from moments of pain, exhaustion, love and loss we embark on a journey of strength and determination. This is the perfect album to listen to while driving through the desert, camping out under the stars, or sitting by a bonfire on the beach. Everyone can relate to the lyrics for they are life’s lessons in song.
I could listen to the title track “Sparkle and Shine” all day long. The piano riff is reminiscent of Jerry Lee Lewis pounding the notes into submission. I love that. It pushes you to get out there and take what is yours. Keep searching because it is out there. A must have for any ‘you are a rockstar’ playlists. Whether you are heading into an interview, audition, mid-term exam or first date “Sparkle and Shine” will give you that much needed shot of adrenaline and confidence. Even if you walk away empty handed you’ll still feel cool.
Daryl Hannah lends her voice to “When You’re Down” which flawlessly blends with Jonny’s style. This song is a love letter affectionately beckoning those who are weary or worry laden. With lyrics such as ‘your heart will always lead you to your home’ our focus can be readjusted to the things that actually matter. It breathes hope like a lighthouse steering ships through rough waters. Each word is embraced in tenderness reminding us that we don’t have to weather the storm alone.
“Sweet Magnolia Flower” is a beautiful song with lullaby-esque undercurrents. The sorrowful vocals mixed with the illuminated strings make for a stunning arrangement. Fair warning, the hollow places in your heart will surely ache with this song. Emotion settles in at the surface gripping onto forgotten pain.
“Helena’s Afraid” wooed me with its homegrown Southern sound. The harmonica is one of my all time favorite instruments especially when it hides complexity underneath its simple structure. With an ability to bend notes it draws out the emotional side of life. I long for a hammock stretched between two old oaks on a warm summer day. It reminds me of where I’ve been and it directs me to the path ahead. “Helena’s Afraid” is fast becoming one of my favorite songs. Not just in relation to the album, but in full competition with those old 45s that used belong to my brother and sister. They can have those. This song is mine.
Sparkle and Shine feels like heartbreak mended showing that life’s missteps only make us stronger. Get back up on your feet, dust yourself off, then embrace love and life. Most importantly … enjoy the journey!
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