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From the Gospel to the lounge

Lounge Freak
Lounge Freak
By John Jonethis

Essential Records: 1998

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This review first appeared in the January 2, 1999 edition of the American Reporter.

Christian lounge music? Well, why not? No reason the hedonists should have a monopoly on schmaltz.

Singer John Jonethis goes the whole route on his new CD, "Lounge Freak": '50s-styled cover art (right down to the "Hi-Fi" label), leopard-skin lapels in one photo, white-linen outfit in the others.

His backing band is martini smooth, maintaining a definite Vegas groove throughout. The songs all have catchy melodies and a certain jazz-like inflection. Were you to not listen to the lyrics, you might think you had the new Steve Lawrence or Jack Jones disc.

But excepting only the opening track, every song here is about Jonethis' Christian faith, with titles like "Jesus Freak," "Consuming Fire" and "Flood." (The opening track is a wonderful self-parody, "Punk Rawk Show." Remember Pat Boone's album of heavy metal covers?)

Even if you don't share Jonethis' faith, if you're at all into lounge music, you might want to check this album out. The guy is the goods. In fact, when on "Never Gonna Be as Big as Jesus," Jonethis sings about how he could be a movie star or as big as Sinatra, well, you get the feeling that he might just be right. He's got Hollywood good looks (with an uncanny resemblance to Richard Gere) and a rich, expressive voice.