Justin Hopkins never quite got his due on Season 2 of The Voice. His duet battle with fellow Team Cee Lo member Tony Vincent was as good as the much-discussed match between Jesse Campbell and Anthony Evans, but Justin largely flew under the radar during his brief tenure. Now Voice fans have a second chance to discover him with his live acoustic album, This Could Happen Anywhere.
The choice to go acoustic is a perfect one for Justin, because it strips away anything that might distract from his vocals. Listeners can appreciate the grit and sincerity in his voice, particularly on the earnest "Someday." Another standout track is "Here Goes Nothing," which sounds entirely different than the version that first appeared on the Justin Hopkins & The Guilt album of the same name in 2007, but still retains the song's catchiness.
The songs on this album are some of Justin's lesser known or even previously unheard, so it should cater to both newer fans and existing ones alike. When taken as a whole, there's enough variety here to show almost the full range of what he can do; he also happens to be pretty handy with a piano, but that's for the next one, perhaps.
It's also important not to overlook Justin's ability to write interesting, often amusing lyrics, which are front and center on the well-recorded album. These are not a dozen songs about the same thing. They contain all sorts of different lines, like the entire first part of "The Times," which references dirty cops and drug addicts, and every one of them can be heard clearly on this CD. Justin is hilarious, down to earth, and unafraid to tell it like it is, and his personality comes through in his songwriting.
Those are also the qualities that make This Could Happen Anywhere so appealing. In a landscape of music that can be overhyped, overproduced, and just generally too much, there's something to be said for an album that's comprised of just a guy and his guitar - yet still has just as much heart and soul as any standard release. Its old-school feeling - it was recorded to tape - only adds to the release's charm.
If there's any flaw in this album at all, it can be chalked up to personal preference; it's missing one of Justin's best songs, "Why Would God Come To LA," but thankfully you can download that track at his ReverbNation page.
A collection of good music without anything else to get in the way, This Could Happen Anywhere is an outstanding album from an underappreciated artist. Hopefully with its release, more people will hear what The Voice missed out on.
(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Big Red Chairs. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.