Remember Michael Jordan’s baseball career? Shaq’s acting career? James Franco’s literary career? For whatever reason, people who are really good at one thing sometimes think they are good at everything, and branch out with results ranging from tepid to disastrous.
Enter Kermit Lynch, a man who began his music career a few years ago but whose every piece of promotional literature points out his many decades as a renowned wine importer. Donuts & Coffee is Lynch’s fourth album. The title track, one of two credited to Lynch alone, is the album’s highlight, a slowly building piano blues that fits Lynch’s voice and style perfectly. It’s confusing, then, that Lynch put so much time and energy into the mediocre covers which comprise the majority of the album: tunes by Burt Bacharach (“Any Day Now”), Duke Ellington (“In My Solitude”) and Johnny Cash (“Ring of Fire”), the latter of which is the album’s nadir. Lynch turned Cash’s punchy masterpiece into a spineless reggae track, just one steel drum short of what you might hear from street performers in Kingston. Comparing it to the original is like comparing the Situation’s book A Guide to Creeping on Chicks to The Sound and the Fury.
The rest of the album is generic lounge jazz and blues: maudlin steel guitar, carousing violin, wandering piano and bluesy vocals that lack nuance. Even enlisting producers and musicians that have worked with everyone from John Lennon to Johnny Cash, the album doesn’t distinguish itself. It’s Michael Jordan’s baseball career all over again. He got the chance because he’s Michael Jordan, but it’s not what history will remember him for.