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“A Box of Jewels” by Chris St. John

“Let me sing to you / It’s just the way I pray,” croons Chris St. John as he prepares to ascend the chorus melody in his new single “A Box for Jewels.” His words hold so much weight, the statements they present obviously sourced from his heart and not some deep desire to be heard more than any other singer/songwriter out there this summer. St. John is putting so much of his soul on the line in this track, and though his passions come on strong and don’t relent for the length of the song, they’re just what the doctor ordered for folk-pop fans in need of a mighty potent fix. 

Purposely hesitant but not to the point of frustrating the flow of the verses, the rhythm here is an extension of the reflective tone the lyrics are delivered with. The instruments plod along with the same consistent glow we find our singer embodying with his every verse, and although production quality has a big part in creating cohesion in this single, it doesn’t deserve all of the credit at all. I think this would be just as powerful a song in person as it is in studio-recorded form, which isn’t true of every track I’ve been reviewing lately. 

You can tell that Chris St. John is invested in the romance he’s so epically describing in poetic terms here, but I like that he isn’t putting so much of his own life into the lyrics as to make the story they tell inaccessible to a broader audience. This could be interpreted as being celebratory of love as well as an elegiac fantasy only imagined in the absence of romantic kinship altogether, framing the duality of human relationships rather elegantly – if not somewhat unintentionally. 

Too much polish on this master mix would have made the hook a little saccharine in comparison to the earthy tonal presence it has in this incarnation of “A Box for Jewels,” and as long as St. John continues to stay away from overindulgent cosmetics, his career stock has nowhere to go but up. His is the kind of singer/songwriter profile that does better in a conservative setting than it does in something cinematic or conceptually progressive, and I can’t wait to see how it influences other players in Americana across the underground. If it were to take hold in the right spots, his standard could elevate the status quo significantly. 

I’m excited to hear more from Chris St. John as he finds his footing in the indie-folk hierarchy over the years to come, but even at this point in his career, I think it’s pointless to debate whether or not he has the chops to go places with this music. He’s playing for himself and the spirit of his lyrics rather than to make a living in one of the most competitive markets this medium has ever known, and for this reason, I believe he’s got a much better shot at the spotlight than the bulk of his rivals do. 

Mindy McCall

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

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