Friday, 2 September 2011

Album Review - Jono McCleery 'There Is'


This album had me from track 1. Jono McCleery strikes an excellent balance between vocal control and letting himself go to maintain the soulfulness. Picture the vocals of James Blake, but thicker, against the backdrop of Bonobo's earlier jazzy lo-fi albums (whom McCleery recently supported) and you've got a basic idea of the album. These are the obvious comparisons, but the London based solo artist brings an originality to the table. The manipulation of sound and electronic elements of the music are played down and subtle, resulting in an underlying haunting mood beneath a Patrick Watson come Alexi Murdoch style singer-songwriter approach.

A subtle blend of orchestral sweeps, whole-hearted vocals, Bonobo skittering drums and delicately finger-picked acoustic guitar is executed to perfection with no one factor ostracising another. There's something so straightforward about the music with the tweaks and attention to detail turning it into something very special. Although McCleery himself is relatively new to the scene, the album includes two collaborations from the well respected producer Fink and freak-folk veteran Vashti Bunyan. The former adds backing vocals to 'Stand Proud' and is what David Byrne was to the Arcade Fire collaboration in that neither really added much to the track. The female touch from Bunyan in 'Only' is more a more noticeable contribution resulting in a song sounding like a more hazy Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan track.

This consistently consummate album deserves much more attention and embodies the elements of some of the strongest musicians about with enough new stuff to catch your attention from the get-go.

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