New York-based Jet Set Six burst onto the swing/pop scene with the acclaimed debut CD Livin’ It Up in 1998, but John Ceparano promised more pop and less swing second time around. True to his word, Life in the Jet Age delivers that, and more.
Some things haven’t changed—the songwriting is still impeccable, and swing fans won’t be disappointed with some of the very cool vibes breezing out of songs like “Annie Woo” or “Message to You”. However, even on tracks like “Annie Woo”, it’s easy to see this is a more ambitious and daring album than its predecessor.
For starters, Ceparano’s own playing is almost as pronounced and prominent as his superb work on The Loveless’ 1995 album A Tale of Gin and Salvation, and the melodies of tunes like “It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right” make it a more mainstream, and perhaps more enjoyable effort.
Indeed, this opener displays all the facets of Jet Set Six’s slightly altered sound. Ceparano’s contorted riff provides appropriate muscle to some enthusiastic horns, and his energetic solo on “Red Jet Boat” is as unexpected as the Beatles-type rock on the brilliantly titled instrumental “James Bondage”. His voice has more emphasis too, and all in all, it’s a new flavour worth savouring.
The colourful pop of “Stop!” is certainly the most contemporary thing the band has done, whilst “Let’s Go to the Beach” fuses a delightfully casual melody with a typically laid-back tempo. “Technicolor Room with a Panoramic View” is as atmospheric as the title suggests, and the instrumental “Kimberley Fab” conjures up wonderful images of cocktails, smoky rooms and snazzy suits.
Producer Dae Bennet skillfully handles all this diversity with consummate ease and adds a glossy sheen to the whole affair. Don’t get me wrong, Livin’ It Up is a good record, and is possibly lyrically sharper, but Life in the Jet Age is a quantum leap away from it in terms of style, adventure and enjoyment.