The press for 'Seeds Of A Dandelion' talks about Jono McCleery being one of the UK's "Best kept secrets", a position which - whilst it's undoubtedly true - when you're trying to put food on your own table is less of a romantic notion for musicians than it sounds.
The Londoner certainly deserves more recognition than he's earned so far off the back of three fine albums - 2008's fan-funded 'The Darkest Light', 2011's 'There Is' and 'Pagodes', released four years later. Each have showcased a distinctive, soul-indebted voice and the artisanal mix of jazz, folk and MPC skitter, along with an ability to interpret other's music cleverly and with respect ('There Is' featured an austere version of Black's 'Wonderful Life', 'Pagodes' a dazzlingly intuitive take on Robert Wyatt's 'Age of Self').
With this understood, an album of covers represents a logical, if brave, choice given how straightforward such a task can be to undertake in theory but also how hard it is to escape the original's shadow. McCleery's certainly can't be accused of easy choices as the selections, from Beyonce's room shaking ballad 'Halo' to Billie Holiday standard 'God Bless the Child' - along with material originally by Tim Buckley, Rufus Wainright and Scott Walker - are held as dear by fans as they appear ripe for new horizons.
Continue reading: Jono McCleery - Seeds Of A Dandelion Album Review
The last time we heard of Londoner Jono McCleery at Contact Towers, he was taking Maribou State's recent album 'Portraits' to a piquant level of high grain via his turn on 'Say More', the sort of brooding, wounded soul epic for which his gorgeously burnt voice was made for.
Adding these crafted flourishes is becoming, it seems, a useful habit; one which could be the reason we've been rationed to a paltry deuce of solo albums so far - 2008's crowd funded 'Darkest Light' and 2012's lustrous, multi-faceted 'There Is'. Close both in spirit and use of textures to occasional tour mate Fink, McCleery is clearly not one to rush the process: 'Pagodes' in turn, however, is well worth his obvious attention to detail.
McCleery's music feels like it should be easy to categorise, but its endless subtleties make that handle elusive: an uneducated ear might even be moved to dismiss it as being insubstantial, even given the degrees of neo, post XX sparseness that count as today's production values. But this is anything but perpetual wallpaper. Robert Wyatt's most poignant moment was on the desultory anti-Falkands ballad 'Shipbuilding', but here McCleery takes the cerebral 1985 social commentary of Wyatt's 'Age of Self' and reverts its dated machine-pop into an agrarian, proto revolutionary song, recalling an era where people could still be moved to action by things as simple as an ideology and words of hope and inclusion.
Continue reading: Jono McCleery - Pagodes Album Review
Let's get one thing straight from the off; I'm a grizzled part time rock hack, and when I see a bio that mentions not just Jeff Buckley and John Martyn in it as artist reference points - and then goes on to throw in Nick Drake and Marvin Gaye for good measure - my bullshit-o-meter starts going off like an IED. Jono McCleery's second album therefore arrives with not so much a ripple but a tidal wave of expectation set against it, on the basis that anyone who even allows their PR's to casually mention Buckley, let alone Drake, needs to be delivering on their promises, and how.
Continue reading: Jono McCleery, There Is Album Review