I’m not sure what Ron Pope thought it would take to make an album, but his latest effort sounds like Better Than Ezra got together with Jesus Jones. An homage to the ’90s, the tone on the songs really never gets past 1998. Stringy guitars and uninspired chants leave listeners with some nice background music at the office. It’s not bad, it’s just not anything new, and more importantly, the passion doesn’t come through.

Songs like “Home Again” should make you want to sing along, not just listen. I’m not buying the lyrics in a song like this or many others. For any singer, this song is a goldmine and offers a lot of opportunity for some serious vocal range but it’s squandered. At any point when there is some attempt at emotion, the tone comes off whiney and insincere. I hope that this isn’t the case live because there is a lot of potential in this record from Ron Pope.

Grade: C+

Whatever It Takes is currently available. Ron Pope performs May 1 at the Roxy.