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CD Review: Jon Lindsay's Summer Wilderness Program 

Bear Hearts Fox; Release date: June 26, 2012

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"Effortless" is a funny term. Taken at a literal level, it's a synonym for lazy, lacking in effort and failing because of it. But most often it is used to describe talent that just seems natural, like a pop singer who makes great, catchy songs because he's simply that good.

A bit of both definitions apply when it comes to Jon Lindsay, a Charlotte-based singer-songwriter with a knack for explosive hooks, eager melodies and charmingly over-thought lyrical concepts. On his 2010 debut LP, Escape From Plaza-Midwood, Lindsay put too much effort into some areas and not enough into others. The album is crammed with witty wordplay, but its loose pop melodies, while competent, are rarely thrilling.

The recently released Summer Wilderness Program finds him refining his approach. The album flows easily, its momentum begging for "effortless" as a positive descriptor. Tightly wound guitar prickles, swells of programmed strings and gobs of gaudy vocal overdubs make Lindsay's new songs shine with a professional polish. This time, his words get the short end of the stick — nothing here lives up to the ranting perfection of Escape's "These Are the End Times" — but Lindsay's precise new tunes are far more fetching. "King of the Offseason" cleans up the fuzz-fueled pop-rock of The Love Language, its sparkling psychedelia supporting razor-sharp lines about a teen-crazy creep.

The title of Lindsay's debut implied a desire for fame beyond the Queen City. He's not there yet, but Summer Wilderness Program proves that the goal may well be within his reach.

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