Sounds like … a sophisticated singer/songwriter bearing similarities to David Gray and John Mayer with the lyrical eloquence of David Wilcox and James Taylor.

At a glance … alongside several of Nashville's finest session players (including Andrew Osenga and Ben Shive), Troast offers two projects packed with impressive instrumentation and introspection.

How does a relative newcomer to the music scene overcome music industry upheaval and audience apathy? Just ask Jon Troast, a Lake Geneva-based singer/songwriter. This guy is thinking out of the box by simultaneously releasing two full-length projects, giving fans on his mailing list a free download of an entire album, and currently spending 100 days on what he calls "The Jon Troast 100 Dollar Living Room Tour." Seriously, for a Benjamin Franklin, the troubadour will play your house. He's already played dates everywhere from Wheaton, Illinois, to Estes Park, Colorado, to Nashville, Tennessee.

Troast is just as inventive in the studio as he is on stage (or rather, living room floor), teaming up with producer Mitch Dane (Jars of Clay) for both A Person & A Heart and With, To, From. Joining the party are all-star session players like Mickey Raphael (Willie Nelson), Andrew Osenga (The Normals, Caedmon's Call), and Ben Shive (Andrew Peterson) to name a few. With, To From tunes like "Wake Up Call" and "Press On" address issues of restoration and perseverance—with the former adapting the blues leanings of John Mayer and the latter recalling the stripped down side of David Gray. A Person & A Heart hosts a similar stylistic swath with the jazzy "Heaven's Got the Time," cementing Troast's place as an forward thinking tunesmith in all aspects of his art.

For more information on Jon Troast, visit

Others worth noting:

Brandon Scott Smith
Modern Day Prodigal
3½ Stars

Style: Soulful pop/modern rock; Maroon 5, OneRepublic, Jeremy Camp

In a nutshell: With pipes that range between bellowing and soulful, Brandon Scott Smith rocks tracks like "Come On With That" and "My Thorn," while grooving through "More Like You" and the title track. His lyrics shift between meditative moments of prayer and encouraging listeners to turn over a new leaf.

For more information onBrandon Scott Smith, visit

Melanie Bomar
Neither Slave Nor Free
4 Stars

Style: Alternative folk/country; Lucinda Williams, Alison Krauss, Julie Miller

In a nutshell: Virginia-born/Los Angeles-based Melanie Bomar loads her original songs with rich, spiritually-enhanced poetry and contagious choruses, but she really shines on a couple of covers. Julie Miller's "Broken Things" translates to a gorgeous, string-enhanced strummer, while Bill Mallonee's "River of Love" gets a sassy, female-directed facelift.

For more information on Melanie Bomar, visit

Karl Stephen Brunig
Distant Thunder
3 Stars

Style: Blues/Americana; compare to Jonny Lang, Tom Waits

In a nutshell: His rugged vocals may take an acquired taste, but Karl Stephen Brunig demonstrates promise as a pensive songwriter and vibrant keyboardist/guitarist. This sophomore offering switches between Gulf Coast-inspired blues and roots rock that's ripe with intriguing improvisational texturing.

For more information on Karl Stephen Brunig, visit

To be considered for "Indie Spotlight," send a CD and press kit to:
Christian Music Today's "Indie Spotlight" C/O
Andy Argyrakis
465 Gunderson Drive
Carol Stream, IL 60188

Browse All Music Reviews By: