Shaun Johnson and The Big Band Experience are a big band group of many experienced and talented musicians. Made For Her will be the group’s first almost entirely original album. Shaun Johnson, the groups front-man and lead vocalist is an Emmy award winning singer-songwriter. He’s most known for his work with the vocal group Tonic Sol-Fa. The Big Band Experience began as a group in 2018. Their first tour was met with enough excitement that they’ve continued to tour and to produce music.
Made For Her is the first almost all original album from The Big Band Experience. The music was inspired by the influential women in Johnson’s life, hence, it’s for her. Overall, the album brings together many influences, including modern pop production, big band sound and the vocal style of jazz singers such as Frank Sinatra.
The album opens with “Sing Me Anything” , a sappy love song with a theme of music. It’s not the high-point of Johnson’s vocals, but this song is one of the more jazz influenced pieces overall. The instrumentals are very fun, particularly the piano and bass in the bridge. “Multiplied by Two” is another jazzy love song, a duet, with a more passionate feeling than the first song. Of the whole album, this song particularly stands out, capturing both Johnson’s style and the traditional big band jazz energy. It’s so good it appears on the album twice in fact, the second time as a remix.
“This Old Man” takes a slightly different approach to the theme of women who have inspired Johnson. The song is about his love for his daughter, how he wants to support her. It captures that feeling of being with a young child and wishing for them to never grow up. At this point, the wind instruments start to disappear, and the sound rests on the vocals and the strings. “All Because of You” is another, more mellow love song which has a country-like influence to it. Johnson seems to have a proclivity for writing love songs that are also songs about music, this being the second one on the album, though it is very different from “Sing Me Anything.” “Losing You” follows this up with a breakup song, mixing the more produced sound of the album with acoustic music and a gospel influence. “Say Goodnight” is one last original duet love song from Johnson, it shifts from acoustic to electric, capturing multiple styles, for a good climax to the album.
The album finishes up with a few sort of unique tracks among the crowd. The first is a live recording of a cover of “Love Me Tender” which is an impressive showcase of Johnson’s vocals if obviously not his songwriting. The last track of the album is a remix of “Multiplied by Two” which takes a more electronic and produced approach to the song. Which version of the song is more appealing probably depends on the listeners taste.
Shaun Johnson and The Big Band Experience, have created an interesting synthesis of classic big band music and modern pop sensibilities in Made For Her. Bringing together many artists into one project seems to have resulted in a slightly mismatched feel throughout the album as a whole, but the individual songs and styles are all worth giving a listen.