Jonathon Long: Jonathon Long Review

You might be tempted to think that this self-titled album from Louisiana’s Jonathon Long is his debut. But you’d be wrong, because he’s recorded a few LPs already, under the moniker Jonathon ‘Boogie’ Long. This album represents something of a reinvention then, as Long joins the same management team as Samantha Fish, who has produced this outing and on whose own Wild Heart Records it’s released. And from what I’ve heard of Long’s previous work, it also marks a slight shift in musical direction. As Long himself puts it, “There was a time I played a lot of shuffles, but now I’m in a different blues genre. I’ve been Boogie since I was two years old, and now it’s time to be just Jonathon Long.”

Songs like “Shine Your Love” and “The Light” lean towards Chris Stapleton-like country. The former opens with sparse strummed guitar and light, sensitive vocals, before picking up a head of steam topped off with one of Long’s typically impressive guitar solos. The latter features a keening vocal over a train-like rhythm, with twinkling guitar in the background, and a different style of solo on which Long plays off against the fiddle playing of Michael Harvey which decorates the track throughout. Meanwhile “The River”, on which Long duets with his producer, is a spacious, dramatic slowie garnished with slide guitar, that builds to a crescendo on which Fish adds her own brand of vocal stardust.

Across 11 tracks occupying just 38 minutes, Long still manages to pack in plenty of great guitar work across a range of material, whether it’s the shimmering effort that tops off the staccato riff and big chorus of “Bury Me”, or the elegant solo that colors the four-on-the-floor strut of “That’s When I Know”, with its strong melody and buzzing, humming, ringing background noises. Then there’s the high-revving belter on “Natural Girl”, a breezy country rock affair powered by crunching guitar chords, swirls of organ, and beefy drums, which describes the kind of girl who probably drives a flatbed Ford in Winslow, Arizona.

Elsewhere there’s a humorously boozy vibe on “Pour Another Drink”, with barroom piano from an anonymous keys contributor, stinging lyrics about hardship on the Eagles-like “Living The Blues”, and a tough, ringing riff on the closing “Pray For Me”, the bluesiest outing here, with a punchy solo that I’d bet Long will dial up even more live. And there’s more besides all of the above – too much quality to list here.

I must admit, I miss the funky warmth of some of Long’s earlier work – go find it, if you can. But there’s no denying the quality of these songs, or Long’s quality as a guitarist. And Samantha Fish also deserves credit for a strong, sympathetic sound on her first outing at the helm, which will doubtless garner extra attention for this rootsy affair. Attention which it certainly deserves.

The Review: 8.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Bury Me
– The Light
– Living The Blues
– Natural Girl
– The River
– Pray For Me

The Big Hit

– Pray For Me

Review by Iain Cameron

Buy the album: Amazon | Amazon UK

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