Like Us -- Jon McLaughlin

Album Review

"If you are lifting heavy objects, I am not your man" sings Jon McLaughlin on "Don't Mess with My Girl," a song where he instructs would-be suitors to steer clear of his paramour. He does this to a chipper, dramatic tune that has its roots in Billy Joel but is better seen as a sincere cousin to Ben Folds, or perhaps a male Sara Bareilles, a considerable step forward from McLaughlin's po-faced beginnings. Like Us, released nearly a decade after his 2007 major-label debut Indiana, capitalizes on the creative comeback he experienced with 2012's Promising Promises, finding the singer/songwriter unafraid to push his emotions and melodies to a grand scale, but also allowing himself to indulge in a bit of humor (the ukuleles on "Thank God" don't feel like hipster pandering but rather wry whimsy). As a singer, he remains a little wispy — it comes as no surprise that he is not one to lift heavy things — but that underscores the sweetness at the heart of his music, a heart McLaughlin wears proudly on his immaculate sleeve.

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