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A promising beginning

By The Turtle Project

Tangled Records: 2008

Buy it now

This review first appeared in the April 3, 2008 issue of the North County Times.

Jason Yamaoka, who plays under the stage name Jason Turtle or J. Turtle, is active with yet another project: The Turtle Project. The mainstay of the local acoustic scene has put together an extended band that brings in horns and strings on its debut release, "Intopaz," while keeping his rich singing voice and sharp songwriting as the heart of the music.

Using the horns more as punctuation than sonic fill, and having more of an alternative vibe than the acoustic folk local fans may be more familiar with, the new CD reminds a bit at times of Cake. But it never gets quite that quirky, and Turtle is such a melodic songwriter that the music here always has a ready accessbility about it.

This first record from the Turtle Project feels a bit rough at the edges still at times, as if Turtle and the band have yet to fully integrate the different influences they're trying to distill. But it's a promising start, one with some very interesting possibilities – and a solid collection of songs on its own.