Album Reviews

King Radio

King Radio

Artist:     King Radio

Album:     King Radio

Label:     Self-released

Release Date:     10/16/2015


King Radio frontman Justin King is a talented singer and songwriter with impressive guitar chops. Yet, his greatest asset may be his formidable skills as an arranger and all-around musical ringmaster. In addition to the core trio of King, bassist Mark Kiesinger and drummer Al Jump, King Radio features a dizzying supporting cast of strings, horns, pedal steel guitar and backing singers. In lesser hands, bringing so much talent together could have resulted in a cluttered, overproduced album. King manages to make all the separate moving parts work together like clockwork, creating a rich, warm sound that freely crosses genre lines.

Tracks like “Alright” and “Lonesome Nights” have a grand, larger-than-life feel that’s sure to remind listeners of The Band. The horns, keyboards and pedal steel guitar don’t so much form a wall of sound as they do a wall of emotion. More sparsely arranged tunes like “Sister” and “Fix It” allow King’s expressive voice to take center stage. King’s experience as a photographer embedded with US troops in Iraq served as inspiration for two of the album’s strongest tracks. “The Valley” is a biting piece of social commentary—the poignant backdrop of piano and strings perfectly matches the overpowering emotion in King’s voice. The lush strings and honky-tonk pedal steel guitar of “Thousand Yard” flesh out the arrangement and tug at listeners’ heart strings.

Justin King and company have crafted an impressive debut. Hopefully, this extremely talented group of musicians will build an audience and get the acclaim they deserve.

—Jon Kleinman

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