by Al Kaufman
Tom Northrop loves his wife and child. Of that, nobody can deny, at least not after listening to Destination Love. Paeans of love abound in this CD, including a song for his new son Justin, called, of all things, "My Baby Justin." In fact, Justin is the reason Northrop and his wife, Carol, stopped performing as the band, Azzu. It was during this down time that Northrop wrote these songs of love and spirituality.
Northrop also runs Northtown Sounds, a Roswell, GA company that produces custom music and sound designs for companies trying to sell products. This makes him an adept musician, but one whose goal is to please and never offend. It also affords him relationships with many great local musicians, most notably Bret Hartley (Billy Pilgrim, Sugarland) on guitar and Eric Frampton (Agent Cooper) on piano. But their talents are underutilized in Northrop's mood music.
Everything about Destination Love is soothing, almost to the point of New Age. Northrop displays deep vocals that try too hard to sound relaxed. But it's not all meditative music. Frampton adds a nice rockabilly piano to "Hammer and Nails," and Hartley's guitar grows some teeth on "I Want More Love From You," but Northrop is simply not up to the task of sounding like a real rock and roll singer.
Tom Northrop has written a beautiful and well-produced love letter to his wife. She should be thrilled. For the rest of us, not so much.