By Sam Redfern
NOISE! Senior Writer

“After a few years apart from his former band, The Force of Nature, AJ Draper is back on the music scene after releasing his long awaited solo album, “An Equal Reaction”.

Born in 1904, to a whale-harpooning father and adoring mother, AJ Draper picked up the guitar in defiance of his dad’s cruel hunting ways when he was just twelve years old.

…Sadly, that’s not true, I just couldn’t find any good background information. (sigh)

After building up some prestige around Southwest Michigan in TFON, Draper decided he would split off and see where the musical road took him. Expecting to release a solo album shortly after the decision, life had other plans and continually brought up set-backs. Approximately four push-backs and over three years of planning on releasing it (semi-Chinese Democracy), it finally saw the light of day in mid-March. Unlike Chinese Democracy, however, the album was not an utter disappointment and rather amazing.

Starting off with a chanting background and a vocal introduction, the album’s opening track sets up the epic that entails. The following half hour keeps you enthralled with poppy, up-tempo music that will leave melodies repeating in your head. Draper uses clever song titles (a la Fall Out Boy) like Don’t Let Yourself Get Ripped Apart By Wolverines (which starts off with a tongue-in-cheek stab at singer-songwriters) and Hope Is A Four Letter Word to suck you into checking them out and the lyrics will hold your interest.

For me, the song that completely caps off this album and reaches it into stellar status is the song About Everything. The lyrics are easy to relate to as it’s simply about a guy who looks too much into everything a girl does to him and gets worked up over it all. From the distorted guitar intro to ragtime feel, this song is pretty much everything a good song should be. Even the back-up “Ooh la la la”s capitalize the simplistic beauty that is this song.

The only thing I’m afraid of with this album is the fact that Draper does almost everything musically (except bass guitar and occasional back ups). While in truth this is impressive, the problem will turn up in live shows. Although he could easily put back-up tracks on an iPod, this music is definitely fitting of a Say Anything-sized band rocking out at all times. So the translation from album to live show will be interesting as soon as AJ Draper gets some shows lined up. I’m definitely excited to check it out.

After quite a few setbacks and delays, this album came out in prime condition and if you get a chance to pick it up, I recommend it. Draper is giving it out free and you can get the link from his MySpace so you really have no excuse to not get it. At the least, I’d suggest listening to a few songs. You will not be disappointed. If the next album is this good, I’d wait another three years for it.

4.5/5 stars