Jay Malinowski is best known as the singer/lead guitarist for Bedouin Soundclash, but his solo album, Bright Lights & Bruises, shows that he can stand on his own. It conspicuously lacks the reggae feel of Bedouin Soundclash’s repertoire, but for non-reggae fans this is all the more reason to give Bright Lights & Bruises a chance.
The first two songs indicate a pattern on the album: the songs are chiefly piano songs or acoustic songs, but Malinowski manages to keep them from sounding bare. With very few exceptions – “Animal” being one – each song sounds rich, filled““` out by the vocals. However, there are times when Malinowski’s voice stretches too high and sounds whiny. “Remembrance Day,” is guilty of this, which is especially noticeable because it’s followed by a similar yet much better use of his voice on “How It Comes Is How It Goes,” a strong acoustic track.
It’s hard to pick the best song, so with the illusion of being categorical instead of indecisive, I’ll say that the best piano song is the opener, “There’s A Light” – an immediate attention-grabber – while the best acoustic song is “Santa Monica,” the album’s first single. There’s a lot to the album, and it rarely strays too far from the feeling of the previous song, but the mix of piano and acoustic songs keep it from being too repetitive. Reggae-haters, rejoice! We can finally like Bedouin Soundclash (well, almost).