Chris St. John “A Box for Jewels”
When setting out on the difficult journey towards creative nirvana, finding the right tools is step number one – so with strings, keys, rich vocals, and a percussive pulse that runs deeper than expected, Chris St. John creates a masterful tribute to love in his new single “A Box for Jewels” that folk fans everywhere should hear this July.
There has been a dramatic uptick in interest hitting the American folk underground this past year, and though St. John is just now getting in on the buzz with a contribution to the soundtrack of 2021 all his own, he doesn’t sound too removed from the bones of the movement at all. Frankly, there’s something about his style that feels equally folky as it does country-inspired, the latter being a rather rare find among a lot of the singer/songwriters who have been trending this year. He’s got the charm of an old fashioned country crooner but the soft-spoken drawl of a true folk singer the likes of which has been missing from the spotlight for more than a generation now, and with this combination of traits, he makes a case for your interest like few other rookies you’ll hear this summer could.
Lyrically speaking, St. John is pretty on-point and straightforward with the poetic stylization of his words, but I think it’s also quite obvious that he isn’t putting most of his attention on linguistics but instead on performance in this track. His presence is doing so much to facilitate the emotion in these verses that you would almost think he’s been doing this for the past quarter-century instead of working in jurisprudence, both of which require such refined attention to detail that many of us would never even attempt such occupations.
The percussion doesn’t have to do much to back up the vocal here, but certainly produces a nice, somewhat jazz-like beat atop which the guitar and piano can colorize the lyrics. Chris St. John moves very deliberately in this piece, but his feelings are never clandestinely sewn into the body of the music; they’re out there, front and center, asking for us to accept them and all of the joy they might bring to our lives.
To say there are a lot of good singer/songwriters in the game right now wouldn’t be doing it justice – the talent pool is spilling over and leaving critics and audiences jonesing for a new era in acoustic songwriting like we haven’t seen in decades, and this player is right in the thick of it. Though Chris St. John could evolve a bit more and develop his harmonies to be a real juggernaut in any setting, what he’s already got going for him in “A Box for Jewels” is worth writing home about all on its own. His sound was made for live performances, but until I have the chance to see him in person for myself, this single gives me a good preview of what I should expect. I’m impressed by his proficiency, and I believe it’s only going to get better from here.