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CD REVIEW: Stephen Su - City Lights
By Dan Cohen - 11/08/2011 - 03:47 PM EST

Artist: Stephen Su
Album: City Lights
Label: stephens jazz records
Genre: Electro-Jazz, Acid Jazz and Post Bop
Sounds Like: elevator music
Technical Grade: 8/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 7/10
Commercial Value: 5/10
Overall Talent Level: 6/10
CD Review: There's nothing wrong with Stephen Su. His album, City Lights, is pleasant enough, and has the feel of a thousand doctor's offices where you've heard this sort of thing ten thousand times before. He may be able to sell this as such, or as background music to certain tv shows.

But as a work of art it is sorely lacking. Mr. Su has skills. His guitar playing, while not stunningly original, is not half bad. I feel like I may be not the best person to review this cd because I detest this genre of music, but never mind. He sent it to me. And what I have to say is applicable regardless of my feelings about the music itself. I can sum it up in three words: GET A DRUMMER!

This sort of tuneful pap can be tolerable if it's well played. But when you've got a drum machine set on a factory preset and you just push play...jeez. At least don't have the drums so prominent in the mix! They compete with the guitar, fer pete's sake! so turn down the canned drums. Or better yet, if you're going to use canned drums at all, which I don't recommend for this genre, please- become a better drum programmer. Vary the beat every once in a while. throw in a fill. or a different high hat pattern. Or an ending! every song ends with a fade out.

This sounds like it was made by Mr. Su with a buddy in the basement last weekend. 'Break out' has some nice sax playing. I tried looking up Mr. Su on the web. His website holds nary a picture. As far as I can tell, he may be an insurance adjuster by day. that would make sense. this music is very safe. Take the next step, Steve. Play outside the box. And find a drummer to play with!

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