Primetime Teen Melodrama
In this day and age, artists can make just as much money, if not more, from television placements and commissions than from album sales. Jack Dolgen, a lovable singer/songwriter with surfer-boy curly locks has been lucky in this regard. His songs have been featured on How I Met Your Mother and 16 and Pregnant, among many others. This success is due to his sweet pop sound, agreeable melodies and knack for writing addicting choruses. His sophomore album, Wandering Times, is a testament to these talents, though the record’s simplicity and immediate accessibility leave listeners aching for something deeper.
Nearly every song follows the typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus (repeat!) pattern, with mostly major chords and predictable progressions—not too mention they’re all about three minutes long. Wandering Times could benefit from some instrumental experimentation such as some twangy banjo or funky keyboard to add variety. Each track is satisfying enough, but if Dolgen wants to be more than MTV background music he’ll need to explore and grow.
The title track, “Wandering Times,” is perhaps the key to Dolgen’s future. A stripped-down piano ballad, the singer showcases his vocal chops. More importantly, he lets his “everything-is-okay,” sugary-sweet walls down and delivers deep, genuine emotion: “When can I sign on the dotted line / Give up every quest and just waste away?”
Sometimes “selling out” is the only way in. And if blonde, dimpled Dolgen is happy with One Tree Hill on his resume, then he’s made it. But if he’s willing to investigate the issues mentioned in “Wandering Times,” he has the potential to be much more.