AJ Smith isn’t trying to be Billy Joel in his song of the same name. It’s not even a tribute to the man himself, really, but rather, in the tradition of Eric Church’s ‘Springsteen’, or Taylor Swift’s ‘Tim McGraw’, it’s a song that alludes to a famous singer with an equally distinctive sound.
Just like Billy Joel’s compositions, AJ Smith rests his pop melody on a strong foundation of chord progression, which while maintaining a considerably lighter touch on the keyboards and a somewhat more beautiful singing voice than Joel, maintain that same theatrical, almost bombastic, quality of his songs. It’s not gone unrecognised either: the man himself, Billy Joel, gave it his thumbs up by sharing it on his social media.
‘Billy Joel’ is a magnificent showcase of his talent both as a lyricist and composer, and pianist. It also serves as an apology to his girlfriend, Brianna Abruzzo, to whom he dedicates the song. Speaking of the track he explains the back-story:
“Everyone has a favourite song to listen to when they’re down and I learned my girlfriend’s early on when it came time to ‘meet the family.’ On the train out, she gave me the run-down: ‘They’re super Long Island. They love the Mets and Billy Joel.’ Sure enough, we spent the night singing with me on the piano. So thank you, Billy, for helping us connect and for helping us get through tough times together.”
Brianna serves as the cameraperson on the accompanying video, filming AJ, making good use of the current quarantine conditions. She shoots him from so many different angles and manages to capture his shifting moods, and in so doing creates a clip that evinces a bounty of love and respect. Just like the song comes over as a deeply personal conversation between lovers, so too does the video convey that intimacy and warmth that can only come from someone who knows well their subject.
Watch the video for ‘Billy Joel’ below. Check out AJ Smith on his official website.