In late 2014, John Splithoff released his first song, the contemplative “What If She Wants You” and then went two years before releasing his next song “Sing To You” (his most popular song on Spotify to date). It’s natural to wonder what an artist does in those two years, but one can assume he was honing his style and the sound he wanted to make his signature. It’s not a far-fetched assumption but in today’s day and age of content being pumped out left and right, it’s also incredibly refreshing. In the two years since “Sing To You,” Splithoff released three more songs (most notable being his collaboration with the up-and-coming singer Madison Ryann Ward on the track “Show Me”) that also appear on his debut EP, Make It Happen, which was officially released today.
Make It Happen is Splithoff’s first organized body of work to be released and the track list is a combination of his popular singles and three new original songs. While “What If She Wants You” is sadly missing for the six-song EP, the new tracks “Make It Happen,” “Spotlight (Girl Next Door),” and “Leave It All Behind” more than make up for its absence. Splithoff even performed the new songs at his most recent show at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom, teasing the EP’s release.
“Sing To You” opens Make It Happen and rightfully so. The popular single is not only familiar to Splithoff’s current fans, but also provides the perfect taste of where he’s planning to take new fans sonically. The bass line provides a comfortable rhythm while he asks for the chance to impress the woman he’s pursuing. The wordplay off the song title may feel a bit on the nose for an opening track, but overall it gets the job done and sets the mood to allow Splithoff to draw the listener deeper into the EP.
The title and lead single “Make It Happen” was released earlier this month on the first and shows how a little extra production value can highlight an artist’s growth. Splithoff sings “Whatever we do, whatever we see, I just wanna live with a passion,” and you can feel the passion he puts into his sound over a percussive piano melody. He complements his pop lyrics with strong R&B and funk influences in the guitar and bass riffs, which will inevitably make you want to want to grab your favorite person and dance while making plans for your future together and be inspired to make sure to follow through.
Splithoff shows off a sultrier side as he employs another funky bass and guitar riff and sings about dancing the night away with the girl next door. The track “Spotlight (Girl Next Door)” takes you back to the thrill of staying out all night and not wanting to say goodbye to someone you just met but immediately felt comfortable with. The change up from the first two songs is an example of Splithoff being consistent in his sound while showing off another side of himself.
The only feature on the EP comes from 2017’s “Show Me,” the track Ward lent her vocals for. Compared to the light and breezy “Sing To You,” Splithoff presents listeners with a richer tone that complements Ward’s airier vocals as they ask for physical reassurance for their feelings. Splithoff was able to show the range in his style but also his consistency in crafting infectious pop songs that make it hard to sit still. “Show Me” is not shy in being the strongest dance track on Make It Happen with its heart-pumping bass drum rhythm driving the beachier guitar riff and keyboard. The bridge showcases a drum pad that adds to the incredibly catchy rhythm and the bassline is noticeably less funky than the rest of the songs on the EP.
“Raye” is not necessarily a ballad but does slow down the momentum of Make It Happen in a calming manner. Splithoff croons to an old flame, Raye, about the unsaid feelings and unfinished business between them. “3AM calls out of the blue/I don’t mind, I wanna talk to you,” Splithoff realizes how much he misses Raye now that she’s gone. We’ve all been there, missing what we used to have when the nights get lonely but Splithoff puts us to shame with his seductive request to get her back in his life after realizing what he lost.
Make It Happen closes with the first true ballad released by Splithoff titled “Leave It All Behind” and it was well worth the wait. The track opens with piano and John harmonizing in a style that is reminiscent of Francis and the Lights’ autotuned vocals but is also unfortunately short-lived. The influence of 90’s R&B is ever-present in the simple combination of piano, kick drum, and hi-hat as Splithoff showcases the rich tone and wide range of his vocals, going low and coming up high to a few falsetto notes. Lyrically, “Leave It All Behind” is Splithoff’s most vulnerable state as he knows he’s been deeply hurt by a former lover but he cannot deny how strong their connection was and wants to try again on a clean slate. Its lyrical relatability and sensibly simple melody makes “Leave It All Behind” one of those addicting songs that you could leave on repeat for hours.
Overall, Make It Happen feels cohesive while not pigeon-holing Splithoff into one genre. The R&B and funk influences can always be heard even in the dance track “Show Me” and makes his pop-sensibility diverse enough to attract fans from various genres. The EP feels like Splithoff is providing the soundtrack to your past summer romances that you can’t help but become nostalgic for every summer you happen to be single again. Splithoff sings of those moments of enjoying the chase for someone whose company you enjoy. He sparks the memories of passion and the inevitable goodbyes when things don’t work out. His songs are like the ex you can’t forget and end up wanting them more.
For a debut EP, John Splithoff has released a strong showing of his talent and skill as an artist. Pop music has been missing a new crooner in the business and Splithoff is throwing his hat in the ring for the title and I’m not mad about it. It will be exciting to see what he will able to create in the coming years and hopefully that will include a full-length studio album. In the meantime, be sure to give Make It Happen a listen on all major music sites now.