Following his '90s stint as guitarist for Pittsburgh pop-rockers Brownie Mary, Rich Jacques moved to Los Angeles, and was soon producing music for TV and film and working as a sideman. Last fall, he released a CD under the name Right the Stars, which includes a couple of songs you might recognize from the films The Breakup and Couples Retreat.
Right from the opener, "Let Go of Her Hand," Jacques establishes a tone: slick, strummy mid-tempo songwriter-pop aimed squarely at music supervisors. The 11 songs offer comforting observations, sung in Jacques' brooding tenor, which at times breaks into an Adam Levine-ish falsetto. "Know That I Would" should be a favorite with the hometown crowd: a nostalgic look back at Pittsburgh, reprised from Jacques' 2008 collaboration with Bill Deasy under the name Thomas Jefferson's Aeroplane.
The album is so airlessly professional and relentlessly likeable that you find yourself hoping for a revealing fracture, some moment of musical crisis. That weirdness injection comes, perhaps unintentionally, midway through with Jacques' cover of "Life in a Northern Town" by '80s folk-rockers The Dream Academy. That crazy "hey ma ma ma" hook feels like Jacques is finally throwing the windows open -- which is precisely why it was a hit song in the first place.
As Jacques sings on "South Indian Monkey Trap," "pleasing people's all I really know." And you know what? He's really good at it ... and that's not a bad way to roll.
Right the Stars feat. Rich Jacques, with Mark Dignam. 7 p.m. Fri., Feb. 19 (doors at 6 p.m.). Club Café, 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. $10. 412-431-4950 or www.clubcafelive.com