The latest EP release from Asian born, Australian based pop singer/songwriter Andrew V. John builds on a strong string of recent releases to elevate the young performer’s profile even higher than before. The legally blind artist has overcome a challenging upbringing and a number of personal tragedies to achieve a level of prominence resulting from his outsized talents. John is an all around great singer, not simply some narrowly defined pop idol with a limited shelf life. His songwriting reflects the positive point of view he’s found necessary for pushing past the obstacles circumstance has chosen to place in his way. The production is exemplary – every song is vividly rendered and stands with substance as well as being clearly aimed for mainstream success. That’s a key to Andrew V. John’s appeal? He’s able to make brilliantly commercial music without ever sacrificing any of his individuality.
The EP’s first track, “Being Human”, is as effervescent of a pop confection as you are likely to hear this year. It benefits further from the invigorating neo classical feel that John invests the song with, but the twin beating hearts of the track are its melodic values and John’s impassioned vocal. He brings equal parts strength and sensitivity to the song without ever allowing himself to become overly theatrical. The same grandeur inflames the EP’s title track, but it’s overall a much more pensive effort than the opener and falls much more clearly within the ballad tradition than the first song does. John deserves particular praise for how artfully he handles the lyric but, moreover, the exquisite sensitivity he brings to every phrase.
“This Is How I Feel” has a challenging, highly physical tempo and a multi-tracked vocal from John much less unfettered than his earlier performances, but nonetheless quite strong and consistently musical. The song takes a number of inventive turns along the way but never risks self-indulgence. The artier swing heard on the previous song continues with “Angel of My Life” and features haunting vocal contributions from guest singer Sevda. John and his collaborators reveal themselves to be exceptionally gifted at conjuring understated atmospherics while still catering to the song’s melodic demands. It results in one of the EP’s finest moments.
Goodbye Is Not Forever concludes with the song “Follow Your Heart”. This is a DJ Michael Russo remix of, arguably, John’s most popular song to date and takes a sharp turn into EDM territory. The song’s message may not plow new artistic ground, but the timeliness and useful of the message can never be questioned. The remix underscores the EDM aspects in the song, naturally, but wisely never demotes John’s rousing vocal to a supporting role. This EP is a remarkably solid effort that engages listeners’ minds while compelling them to move and enjoy themselves. Despite the positive message, John never lays the themes on listeners with a heavy hand and, at times, even tempers his optimism with a clear-eyed recognition of the losses incurred at the hand of fate and life. Goodbye is Not Forever will find widespread acceptance.
9 out of 10 stars.