By Al Kaufman
Jer Coons missed his chance at becoming a national star when he slept through his audition for American Idol. But who knows how far he would have gone? After all, people with actual talent and songwriting skills don't generally win on that show.
Jer Coons, at the tender age of 20, has plenty of talent. With a clear, sharp voice, and an equally sharp pen, Coons will be around a lot longer than most Idol contestants.
Coons fits right in with those crisp, pop tunesmiths like Jason Mraz, Brett Dennen, and Glen Phillips; guys who are not going to break down any boundaries, but will consistently deliver a good tune with some nice harmonies and guitar work and lyrics that stand above the standard pop fodder.
On his debut CD, the Vermonter delivers 11 songs that do not have a clunker among them. As is to be expected, there is also not a song that stands head and shoulders above anything else. The closest he comes is the first single, "Legs." In the song, he tells his ex-girlfriend how happy he is that she has moved on, but has a tough time justifying how much she has lowered her standards for her new beau. "Maybe the bar was raised so high that he just walked right under," he muses.
Speak often covers broken relationships without resorting to the pity or self-loathing that is the easy reach for most young writers. "Ship Sank," another break-up song, incorporates some funky guitar into the mix, giving it some heft, while keeping it commercially accessible.
Jer Coons has the goods. He is to be forgiven for his "thank you" liner notes section, which is so full of sentiment and in jokes it sounds like something a high-schooler would write after the school play. But hearing Coons sing his songs, it's easy to forget he's only two years removed from high school himself.
Jer Coons plays Eddie's Attic on Tuesday, October 20.