An actor of tremendous acumen, eccentric wit and nonsensical humor, 27-year-old Jason Francesco Schwartzman has talent that few would question. It now appears as if the actor of Italian and Jewish descent (known for his role as “cool Ethan” in Slackers and Claire Dane’s tactless boyfriend in Shop Girl) has now found his niche in the music community. As of last March, Jason Schwartzman released his first solo album, Nighttiming, under his label, Young Baby Records. Schwartzman was formally the drummer/songwriter of Phantom Planet before disassociating from the band in 2003 to further pursue his acting career. After a four-year hiatus, Jason has returned to his original music making endeavors. Despite the rumors that the entire album was produced in Mike Einziger’s Los Angeles basement in under a week, the song “West Coast” was first made famous on the season finale of the O.C. Although the cascading acoustic chords and the plaintive lyrics are accredited solely to Jason, part of the commotion surrounding his album is due to tracks featuring Kirsten Dunst and Zooey Deschanel.
Kirsten Dunst manages something between a melodic whine and a breathy lullaby in the opening track “This Old Machine.” And if barely audible whistling and a whispered one liner count as collaboration, then Zooey Deschanel holds her own on the track “Slowly.” Perhaps the most attractive thing about the album for Jason Schwartzman fans is that each purchased hard copy of the album includes an original and non-reproduced Polaroid, either of Jason, or taken by Jason himself. Unfortunately, Nighttiming seems to lose its momentum midway through, via repetitive songs such as “The Thanks That I Get” and “Easy Girl.” At times the unvarying uniformity of a few songs sounds like Schwartzman has exhausted his musical adroitness. One must wonder if the majority of Schwartzman’s album sales are due to fans’ curiosity about another celebrity turned musician. In all honesty, the album isn’t really that good. But Jason is good, so I fully support him. And what do I know? So far the panoramic response has been positive and Jason definitely deserves kudos for his exceptional vocal skills. So if you’re a Schwartzman enthusiast, I encourage you to buy this album because for what it’s worth, you’ll be introduced to a new level of J and a couple of catchy songs will be stuck in your head. Also, on a few tracks, he plays the kazoo.
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