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The Right Amount - Click to view! I like to think that the Beach Boys—under the production of Brian Wilson—set the standard for good pop music. Some will shout in disagreement, raising names like The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, or The Smiths. To be sure, those artists and others like them have made some very good music. Yet, there was a sparkle that the Beach Boys had, something indescribably delicious and unforgettable, that set them at the head of the pack.

This may be why I find Bon Voyage's sophomore release, The Right Amount, so addictive. Deep within the smooth guitar licks, swirling synthesizer beats, and dreamy vocals, that same sparkle can be heard. It's impossible to say what creates that sparkle, but it's there, flowing in and out of the songs, placing itself in your head and never letting go.

The title track is perhaps the best example. Jump-starting at thirty miles-an-hour, its vocal harmonies and irresistible melody stops you in your tracks. In our day of commercialized music, we don't often hear pop music that is fresh like grandma's pie; thankfully, that doesn't stop Bon Voyage from bringing it to us straight from the oven. It doesn't stop there: the next three songs come and go in rapid succession, each utilizing the variety of influences-rhythm and blues, rock, and even a touch of a hip-hop-found in songwriter/producer/lead musician Jason Martin (also frontman for Starflyer 59). They also display the versatility of Julie Martin's voice. Though her higher notes are sometimes a bit weak, she masterfully uses her range and charms the listener with her almost-simplistic delivery.

Though all of the songs on this album demonstrate Jason Martin's insight into pop music, "All the Traps" is the finest gem on the album. A syrupy anthem that slowly builds into an apocalyptic mix of lush notes and melodies, it climaxes with a line of great comfort: "So leave your cares and worries, they don't amount to many things." This thought will remain in your heart and come back to you in needy times, helped by the endearing music that accompanies it.

The Right Amount is not picture perfect, though, as some of the songs don't live up to the promise of others. Where one song may take you to the heights of Everest, the next will only take you to the base of the mountain. However, one must applaud the Martins and their aides (Richard Swift, Ronnie Martin of Joy Electric, and Travis Zimmerman). Well-written pop songs are a treat in and of themselves-how much more valuable, then, are pop songs that are performed with an air of effortless satisfaction? Bon Voyage is like a rich champagne: its sole purpose is to put a smile on your face and a sparkle in your soul, and this it does quite well.
- Jason Ewert
January 2003
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