Unless you’ve been living in a hole for the last fifteen years, you’ll be well aware that J.R Richards is the vocalist with Santa Barbara alternative rock outfit Dishwalla. Alternatively you’ll be one of those people who think that Dishwalla was a one hit wonder with the single ‘Counting Blue Cars’.
To those in the know-and thank god I’m one of them-Dishwalla have produced five albums and currently must qualify as the most underrated rock band of all time.
Why? You may ask do I label them underrated? Well, they have never really achieved the success that they deserved; Universal's 1998 purchase and dissolution of A&M/Polygram, the label that produced the first two albums was mainly responsible for the failure to capitalize on the success of the aforementioned single. Criminal when you consider that singer J.R Richards has the most superb voice that you are likely to hear; a sort of vocal equivalent of sophisticated warm dark chocolate and velvet. Let’s face it the man could sing the telephone directory and we’d still think it was fantastic.
Considering that Richards writes all the Dishwalla material and is the vocalist, it’s not surprising that his first solo effort sounds like his band. It’s not quite as aggressive as the self titled album but brings to mind its gentler moments and of course ‘Opaline’.
Opener and title track ‘A Beautiful End’ is a catchy power pop gem and is in complete contrast to the more soothing acoustic leanings of ‘Person For You’ or ‘Red Painted Walls’. Elsewhere Richards soaring vocals enhance the more full on sound of ‘June Becomes July’ or the orchestral ‘Clearwater’ to diversify an overall sound that is stamped with Richards’ incredible vocal signature.
In these times of drivel undeservedly gaining success via strategic marketing and hype it is refreshing to hear the extraordinary vocal talent of J R Richards putting everything into perspective.