Until a couple of years ago, Andrew Hoover had his heart set on being a chef. Nowadays the 21-year-old singer-songwriter from Connecticut is more likely to be found playing his self-assured brand of smooth, acoustic blue-eyed soul and R&B, similar to labelmate Ernie Halter, in a coffeehouse rather than chopping onions in the kitchen. For his debut album, Chances, Stances and Romances, Hoover, who usually performs solo, teams with a studio band who includes Rock Ridge’s president Jason Spiewak on keys (he also produces) with mixed results. Although there are a few numbers, especially the upbeat “Soul Sucker” and the funky “Shy Girl” (if you can block out the insistent cymbals), where singer and band gel, the majority of the arrangements sound more tacked-on than organic. Nevertheless, when Hoover is left to his own devices—as on “Back at One”, where his propulsive, slap-style acoustic guitar drives on a raw, soulful performance or when the singer goes so far as to back himself with some tasty falsetto on “Roses and Joy”—everything clicks and points the way to a stronger second album.
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