For those that have yet to be turned on to California-born, Chicago-based singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Kevin Tihista, it's time to open your ears and fall in line. His sophomore effort, Judo, showcases the talented young musician's lyrical wit and aptitude for creating interesting, lush instrumentation. Though he did have some assistance from Ellis and Tom Clark, Tihista contributed lead and backing vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, and even MTV Music Generator 2 (Playstation) programming to the album. In order the achieve Judo's aforementioned lush musical texture, violins, cellos, brass, a vibraphone, and a Hammond B3 organ were also brought in, though they did have to follow Tihista's carefully scripted arrangements.
The album not only incorporates many different instruments, but it also varies nicely in style from song to song. The refreshingly upbeat "I'm in Love With Girls" could have been recorded during Badly Drawn Boy's Hour of Bewilderbeast sessions, with distinctive harmonies, sweetly resonant electric guitars and backing trumpet solos. "You're Making Other Plans," a song about a love stricken guy distraught about his woman moving on with her life and leaving him behind, is built around chompy, acoustic chords and highlighted by rich three part harmonies. "You Don't Have to Be Sorry" and "Hymn" are classic ballads, while "Oh No, Not Again" rocks with fuzzy electric guitars and driving percussion. Kevin Tihista's beautiful melodies and creative phrasing hold the album together and help to form a cohesive and unique body of work. Fans of Badly Drawn Boy, The Beatles, Rufus Wainwright, and Elliott Smith will get K.O.'d by Judo.