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Jono’s voice—which would laugh in the face of the Bermuda Triangle—carries us through.
In a time when one musical prodigy outdoes the next in the extent to which they’re defying conventions, breaking rules and testing the limits of the digital and analog, it can be refreshing with a little traditionalism.
This may give the impression that Jono McCleery makes traditional music. That is not really true—the soul, modern jazz, and even dance flashes in his folk music speak against it—but he does have that dependable baritone, the kind that reminds us of the great male vocalists from when things were kicking off for his genre. Voices to cling to when a storm is brewing.
On There Is, storms are brewing. On the album’s second song, ’Garden’, we’re not exactly sun bathing and sipping a margerita amongst the greenery. The melancholy guitar and violin takes us to what seems a desolate, cold place with a bare minimum of leaves. The hectic drums during the verses don’t so much comfort as provoke anxiety and stress.
But Jono’s voice—which would laugh in the face of the Bermuda Triangle—carries us through. And, putting tradition over trend, the light compression and echo on ’Wonderful Life’ is as far as this album ventures in terms of vocal effects (apart from some multi-tracking, of course, but that’s conventional at this point). That song, a bass-heavy and stripped ode to inspiration and the brighter moments of our existence, is one of the album’s strongest.
Taken together, the mood of the songs on There Is is a little too monotonous, but at its best moments the cold production is outweighed by an overwhelming inner warmth. Then we’re not ”dancing in the rain”, as the fantastic extended version of single ’Tomorrow’ would have it; we’re happily rolling naked in the snow.