Material: Justin Levinson's songs are pop oriented. They ooze preteen and teen, with melodies that take the listener back to the Mickey Mouse Club. The music starts out with a Beatles vibe, namely the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour albums; then as the songs unfold they take on their own identity and personality, both lyrically and musically.
“Scared of Losing You” has a Monkees feel to it at first, then blossoms into a beautiful love song (yeah, like a butterfly) that turned out to be one of the better songs of the night. Levinson uses few harmonies, but when the background vocals come through, they add dimension to the songs.
Musicianship: This was a very tight outfit that came to play. The background vocals were exceptional on “Safety in the Rain” as each musician played with proficient accuracy. Neither McCormack, nor Malvey nor Popick missed a note or beat the entire night, and they played with excellent precision song after song. Although the musicians were good, they seemed hesitant to improvise on any of the songs, appearing robotic at times as they waited for cues from Levinson.
Levinson has a good voice and is an even better songwriter. The songs are delicately crafted to tell stories as if two people are talking to each other—Levinson revealing their most private secrets as he pulled triple duty on piano, guitar and vocals. He’s a gifted songwriter with room to grow.
Performance: In terms of energy, the performance was just okay. The only one engaging with the audience was Levinson and it was simply to introduce the other band members. The music was extremely tight, though, as the band members had their parts down to a tee.
Summary: Justin Levinson, who hails from Vermont and graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston with a degree in songwriting, has five albums spanning the better part of 10 years.
Though Levinson’s show is theatrically challenged, his stirring music makes up for it. A laid-back attitude and easy listening music made for an enjoyable evening.
The Players: Justin Levinson, vocals, piano, guitar; Adam Popick, drums, vocals; Stein Malvey, guitar, vocals; Liam McCormack, bass.
Venue: The Hotel Café
City: Hollywood, CA
Justin Levinson - "Together Forever"