BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Despite the presence of six producers and, yes, “twelve tales,” the real credit for this hype-worthy opus is due A.J. Croce himself, given that he’s come up with a pop-perfect album that represents his best effort yet. The son of the late, great Jim Croce, A.J. does his dad proud, not only in his choice of collaborators — an all-star list of legendary producers that includes Allen Toussaint, Cowboy Jack Clement, Greg Cohen, Mitchell Froom, Tony Berg and Kevin Killen — but also because he’s written a set of songs that show his ever-sharpened skills and a full peak of confidence.
While comparisons to his dad become inevitable — especially as evidenced by the cool, jazzy undertones evident in tunes like “Make It Work” and “Call Of Love, or, for that matter, in the rollicking refrains of “Rollin’ On,” a co-write with Leon Russell — many of Croce’s songs — “Always and Evermore” and “What Is Love” in particular — bring more obvious comparisons to Paul McCartney, courtesy of their easy, breezy charms.
Obviously, each of the producers bring a certain savvy to their respective contributions, but their presence may be more for marquee value than anything else. Were it not for the exquisite material and an effortless delivery, it’s doubtful Twelve Tales would resonate in the same way. Clearly, it’s a contender as the breakout bonanza of the year.
DOWNLOAD: “Always and Evermore,” “Make It Work,” “What Is Love”