The retrospective release “What Once Was” (WuLi Records) may not speak favorably to all of Lee DeWyze’s American Idol fans, but it does capture the Illinois-bred songwriter’s diversity & simplistic nature. Serenading heartfelt rapport through a number of mature orchestral cascades, it is a soothing & sound-inspiring collection that generates its own kind of “Sweet Serendipity”. You could even say that this album reflects the more unfettered, bashful style that the TV-drawn public came to adore from the young entertainer…with gentile expression between guitar, piano, strings, & drums that playfully dance with his genuinely sensible voice. DeWyze has never been a stranger to creating his own flavorful interpretations, often placing his strong musical passions well before scholastic responsibility. For a guy that never dropped into the bottom three, & walked away a ‘Season Nine’ WINNER on the ever-popular singing competition series (American Idol – Fox TV)…it may just be that the world isn’t quite ready for the organic aptitude that so easily pours from his soul.
“I want a connection with my audience, in the sense, that any song I do reminds them of a specific moment in their lives…not mine. I want listeners to say, ‘Wow, he was there when that happened to me.’” – LEE DeWYZE
In follow-up to “So I’m Told” (2007) & “Slumberland” (2010), both distributed by former label WuLi Records, & his post-Idol debut “Live It Up” on RCA Records (also released during 2010) – there has been mixed debate over whether Lee actually wanted any vaulted material issued to the public or not. With April announcements that he would be undergoing further independent writing sessions, WuLi adamantly insisted that DeWyze followers were eagerly anticipating something new long before then. Only a year into his contract with RCA, the now twenty-six year old artist was dropped from the roster due to restructuring & failure to produce a major charting position…an option that’s reverted to far too frequently, & left DeWyze “stunned” at the height of a tour. If the soulful chorister was discovered before his time, or appeals to a more eclectic audience of different musical appreciation, it doesn’t make him any less talented.
WHAT ONCE WAS breaks into the delightfully jazzy beat of Snaps, beckoning “Come with me…” before whisking us off into a songwriter’s journey that covers everything from folk to Latin. A “Limited Edition” glimpse into a defining portion of Lee DeWyze’s amateur career, it shows his “Chill Rock” influence amongst contemporary rhythms & fiddle-type undertones…giving it a nice adult, easy-listening palette. The acoustic-infused delivery does not boast massive rock hooks or extraneous vocal quakes, rather subduing the listener into nine tracks of mid-tempo sultriness. Never There is a mirage of heartbreak & broken promises, before leading us into the quirky & convincing rhythm of Maybe I Might. Princess (Reprise) brings the heavier edges of DeWyze’s inner rocker to the surface, infatuating with his natural raspy flare. Through the various paces of tracks like Latino-driven When She Dances, the optimistic Green With Me, & reflective ballads Fallen & Worth Waiting – Lee’s simple lyrics & tender harmonies march along a path of natural charm.
With influences like Cat Stevens, Eric Clapton, & Simon & Garfunkel – what more could be expected from this average guy with an extraordinary voice? Well…if you listen carefully, about ten minutes after the spite-laced closure of Bridge Burns, you’ll hear the comical side of the singer muttering something about a taco as “The Spanish Butterfly”. All in all, the CD boasts momentary efforts that make you stand up & take notice of DeWyze’s well-rounded abilities. However, there may just not be enough of them to satisfy the general population that expect an over-produced, Bieber-like hit.
“Whether I sell 100 billion albums or one, I’m still the same person.” – LEE DeWYZE
As DeWyze is busy fulfilling a new & exciting lifestyle amidst the pop-cultured L.A. scene, he has not lost the smalltown, Mount Propsect friendliness of “the boy next door”. Regularly chatting it up with fans on Twitter, & staying close with those who helped keep him on the American Idol stage, he continues to write music that speaks to their hearts & eases their minds. A special donation version of new single “Fight” was recently released with the American Heart Foundation’s “One for the Heart” campaign, where supporters can text a $5 donation to the organization & receive a free download of the song. Another piano-laden track, “Open Your Eyes”, shows exceptional promise of the good things to come. With completion of a new album, & marriage to Hollywood sweetheart Jonna Walsh, just around the corner…Lee is ready to make fresh prints in an unopened chapter of his already epic story. But through all this “Coming of Age” there’s one thing Lee’s reflections constantly remind us of – that he was a songwriter ever before stepping into the blistering lights of fame…& this album proves just that.
*** Lee DeWyze is currently under the directive of 19 Entertainment. ALL IMAGES included in this article are courtesy of Mr. DeWyze & his associated firms. For more information on ordering his album “What Once Was”, please visit the official WuLi Records website.
(Some Information Gathered from Wikipedia.org)
Please support the American Heart Foundation’s “One for the Heart” campaign, & receive your FREE DOWNLOAD of Lee’s new song “Fight”, by following the instructions in this video. You can find out more about the fight to stop heart disease at the following link. – http://www.theheartfoundation.org
To connect with Lee DeWyze, & follow what’s happening in his current career, please visit him at:
A “Special Congratulations” to Lee & Jonna on their upcoming marriage. From everyone at the Rock U Review…we wish you ALL THE BEST!!!