John Common

Sep 132006
Authors: JAKE MOUNTJOY KCSU Music Director

Songwriting today can be a difficult task for many artists trying to break into a scene and stand out. Unfortunately, most of those songwriters have nothing outstanding to offer, and fail to miss what is most important: originality.

Sure, anyone can pick up a guitar and cover Iron and Wine’s “Naked As We Came,” in front of some insomniac hipsters at Alley Cat every weekend. Or dare I say, a Dave Matthews song? Come on Fort Collins, I know you love Dave.

However, Denver’s John Common has cracked the code of modern-day songwriting and delivered us something surprisingly refreshing compared to the typical coffee shop drone. Common’s newest record, “Good To Be Born,” is full of energy, passion, creativity, variety, personality and most importantly, sounds you’ve never heard before.

Common is matched with Kevin Meyer on bass, Tom Germain on drums and my personal favorite counterpart of the quartet, Edward Walter Marrs IV on keyboard. As clich/ as it sounds, every musician knows what they are doing.

The first track off “Good To Be Born,” “What Are You Waiting For,” supplies a catchy chorus and an easygoing structure. And just as you realize it’s something you don’t mind listening to, the creativity begins.

“It’s Out” tenders a well-crafted and sundry mix of pop rock, textured melody and quirky harmonics. At one moment it could be a Matt Pond PA song, the next a refined modern rock breakdown. Everything in this track is so sharp, a near perfect blend of different instruments.

Finally, the fourth track “Coming In For A Landing” is composed of delightful finger-picked guitar layered with a fresh summertime keyboard melody. Complemented with electro-pop percussion and Common’s comforting voice, I already know the rest of the record is first-class. And yes, the record is first-class.

John Common has been able to compose a record worthy of appreciation. The record as a whole offers a welcoming sound to passive listeners, and yet has depth for musical critics. So there you have it, two thumbs up.

Common has shared the stage with Rhett Miller, The Old 97s and even Widespread Panic. So I challenge you, coffee house dwellers and all music lovers, check out John Common. He is a damn good songwriter.

KCSU music director Jake Mountjoy can be reached at

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