Personnel: John Ondrasik (vocals, piano, background vocals); Derek Fuhrmann (guitar, background vocals); Zane Carney, Don Tirer, Peter Zizzo (guitar); Dave Eggar (cello); Jamie Kenney (piano); Gunnar Olsen, Shawn Pelton (drums); Todd Clark, Olivia Ondrasik (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Joe Zook.
Photographer: Jeremy Cowart.
Once again working with producer Gregg Wattenberg, who helmed 2009's Slice, John Ondrasik nevertheless shakes things up a little bit on 2013's Bookmarks. Ondrasik highlighted his classicist side on Slice, opting for lush, grandiose arrangements and a deliberate pace, but Bookmarks is considerably brighter, its sonic surfaces shining and its tempos sprightly. No longer operating on a ponderous, portentous level -- he's discarded the melancholic navel-gazing that brought him fame with "Superman" -- Ondrasik seems as if he's lifted a burden from his shoulders. His melodies are merrier, his lyrics dotted with hope, and, most appealingly of all, the entirety of Bookmarks is a highly polished piece of soft rock. Perhaps it belongs to an aesthetic that is slightly outdated -- ironically enough, the attitude and sound belong to turn-of-the millennium adult contemporary radio, which is when he was at the height of his commercial success -- but Bookmarks is surely the best-crafted adult pop released under the Five for Fighting name, its sturdy tunes wrapped up neatly in a shiny, appealing gloss. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine