Jake Stigers knows his way around a hook and his second album No Vacany makes that abundantly clear. But, the production and overall feel of this record represent an MOR mentality that ultimately limits the album from a creative standpoint.
And how can they call seven songs an album. Keep in my, this is not a seven song Led Zeppelin album where the songs stretched into the ten minute range. No, these seven tracks clock in at a brisk twenty two minutes. I just don’t get it.
The stuttering guitar riff that opens “Ride With You” is augmented by Stigers’ smooth rock voice, but the chorus of “I wanna ride with you/I wanna roll with you” sounds like it could have been written by Uncle Kracker. And that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the “album”. “End of the World” has a bent note guitar hook in the opening to die for. This track makes clear Stigers’ gift of melody, and even has stronger lyrics. There is no way that you can listen to this song, and not picture it being used in “Grey’s Anatomy” or another show of that ilk. A key track. “She’s a Woman” slows the pace, with a nice, sweet acoustic guitar strum. The lyrics, though, bring the song down from it’s gorgeous melody.
“Tomorrow Never Comes” is a nice piece of rock and roll, with a classic sense of building the song slowly through the verses, to that huge chorus. But, again the lyrics are lacking. His cover of John Hiatt’s “Ridin’ With the King” is a decent, bluesy reading. It showcases not only Stigers’ impassioned vocals, but some nice swinging guitar. “House of Our Own” sounds like it belongs on Adult Contemporary radio. It’s a pretty song, with a decent hook and the lyrics are an improvement. The one minute acapella “Slow Time” isn’t really much. Sounding like crappy doo wop group, this should have been taken off the record.
There is little doubt that Mr. Stigers is a talented songwriter. His melodies shine throughout this album. But, he just doesn’t have the lyrical prowess to make these songs real stunners. Maybe if he would work as hard on the lyrics as he does on the melody, he can deliver an album of true grace, and hooks. Until then, No Vacancy can tide you over as an okay album that just doesn’t deliver consistently.