Richard X. Heyman
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Power pop is not dead! It’s just hiding under the surface of contemporary music, waiting for its rabid if somewhat shy cult to expose it to the light. All the proof you need is here on auteur Richard X. Heyman’s newest release. As the title implies, it’s his tenth entry in a stunning, sadly under heard catalog that holds dozens of sparkling and rocking pop should-be-classics. Rack up another 15 winners here as Heyman, who plays every instrument, keeps his influences exposed yet never simply copies them. You’ll hear bits of the Who, the Hollies, the Beatles, Badfinger, Big Star, the Flamin’ Groovies, the Smithereens and especially the Byrds drift in and out of these tracks that balance on a nifty tightrope between Brit and American rock. It’s to Heyman’s credit that none of the songs explicitly sound like any of those bands, nor does this feel like a self-congratulatory exercise in retro audio crate digging.
Instead, Heyman uses his sure footed sense of melody along with his obvious instrumental and especially production abilities to craft hook laden ear candy that’s never sugary or predictable. His dusky voice, somewhat similar to a combination of Donald Fagen and Paul Weller, effortlessly shifts from rockers such as the Brit invasion kick of “Somebody Has Finally Found Me” and “Compass” to the Stonesy blues hooks of “Verges on the Day” and the Roger McGuinn shimmering 12 string strum of “Be the One.”
Only a lack of promotion and exposure has kept Heyman on the back burner. In a more equitable world, he’d be as popular as Tom Petty, another prolific artist who shares similar musical interests. Better yet, anyone new to Heyman will be thrilled to know there are nine more platters as great as this. It’s up to you power pop lovers. Don’t let this terrific talent get to album 11 without the acclaim he deserves and that X clearly proves he has earned.