Love isn’t a new subject in the world of pop music, but when it’s captured in an angelic manner by a pastoral singer/songwriter, it feels particularly special and always renewed in relevancy. Chris St. John tries his hand at writing an iconic love song in the new single “Box for Jewels” that immediately caught my interest when I received a pre-release copy just a week ago, and despite the mountains of competition this ballad faces right now, it could be among the smarter tracks of its kind to land on my desk this season. “Box for Jewels” is an Americana-laced song that doesn’t overstate its harmonies but instead catalyzes them into deeper messages of kinship a lot of us could really benefit from hearing in 2021, and it’s a great way of getting to know its composer as well.
The instruments in this single are soft and gently applied to create an arrangement of melodies neither inefficient nor offensively minimalistic – in all actuality, their mild indulgences are some of the better attributes it has to offer. There’s been so much alternative Americana bombarding the mainstream country charts in the past couple of years that finding something born of a more purist fabric in the pop lexicon is really awesome, especially if you’re partial to straightforward songwriting like I am. One of the best elements in “Box for Jewels” is its black and white construction, which proves once and for all that you don’t need a lot of frills to sound sophisticated and personal in any genre.
This lead vocal is quite reminiscent of Mr. James Taylor, but I would stop short of saying that St. John is drawing direct inspiration from anything in the retro folk-rock school specifically. There’s just too much unforced passion, too much of a raw emotional connection between artist and medium in this piece for me to assume that its origins start and end with a desire to craft a smart throwback, no matter how noble a cause that could be framed as. “Box for Jewels” begs for us to examine the credibility of its sentiments through the lens of its own harmonies, and not those of another artist’s sound nearly five decades after the fact.
If you’ve been trying to locate an accessible alternative to the mainstream adult-contemporary and neo-countrified anthems dominating much of the FM dial in 2021, Chris St. John might be just the tuneful troubadour you’ll want to go see before the summer has concluded. His new single “Box for Jewels” is a lot like its title would suggest it could be, though it lacks the compositional containment often separating the warmth of a ballad’s narrative from the audience it was designed to connect with the most. St. John has a big heart behind these harmonies, and when he’s singing for us in this single, it’s quite clear that he chose the right time to get into the singer/songwriter game – for both the benefit of his genre and that of the American listener in general.
by Bethany Page
The music of Chris St. John has been heard all over the world in partnership with the radio plugging services offered by Musik and Film Radio Promotions Division. Learn more https://musikandfilm.com