Review Summary: The latest album by Jonah Matranga has a solid foundation of songs, but overproduction leads to a mediocre result.
Jonah Matranga once went by his artist pseudonym Onelinedrawing, but three years removed, his career has transpired to exactly what he wanted, specifically with his fans. Most of his shows are still in small, cozy venues that allow singer-fan conversation and his merchandise is on a ‘pay-what-you-can’ scale. But with his neat little intricacies comes his music. After his stellar 2004 emotion-riddled album, The Volunteers
, there have been a few releases, but no ‘official’ album until his latest release, And
. With And
has come an entirely new Jonah Matranga, one that is hard to come to terms with. The reason? Well, some of the unique characteristics of his sound have gone missing and it is nothing short of disappointing.
Jonah Matranga’s music was once so intimate, sincere, and captivating, but with And
, the music begins to lose its defining luster. The reflections of his personal life appear vapid and almost ordinary
. Nothing could take away the days when it was just an acoustic guitar, occasionally a Casio keyboard/laptop, and Jonah (I rarely refer to artists by their first name, but after seeing Jonah live it is hard not
to act as if he is your friend). Even now during some points of And
, I would imagine what the album could
have sounded like had it been released years prior or simply without a record label. The recent reality is disheartening, but Jonah still means well.
The tear-riddled goodbye story of “So Long” omits an aura of hope through Jonah’s voice which sings with unwavering confidence accompanied with an upbeat feel resonated by his acoustic guitar. Jonah Matranga always manages to breakout perfectly coordinated chords and strum patterns that can change the mood with every measure played. Regardless, the worst part of “So Long” is the effect it leaves after it’s over. Unfortunately, the album peaked at the first track because the other songs fail to live up to what made “So Long” so great. Take slow-rock “Every Mistake” and the goofy piano cuteness of “I Can't Read Yr Mind,” which both have a good focus lyrically, but the layers of instruments hinder any sort of breakthrough. And
appears almost overproduced, even the times when it seems stripped down.
Personal tracks like “You Always Said You Hated San Francisco” starts with a man and his guitar, but soon cheesy electric guitar slides try to add some sort of ‘awe’ effect. In fact, that same effect turns into immense overkill throughout the entire record. Pick-me-up songs like “Waving Or Drowning?” avoids this plague (for the most part) and turn out above par, but still nothing containing that ‘it’ factor. Even so, what irks me the most is on his latest EP, Sketchy EP #3
, the track “Fathers & Daughters” appears untouched and perfect. This track single handedly proved that the production was the downfall of And
, considering comparing that same track with two different levels of production and tampering. “Lost, Then Found” finger-picks its way to end saying, ‘the best things in life are lost, then found,’ which leads to an obvious realization. Can someone send out the SOS signal? Because Jonah needs to realize the element he lost that was so fragile and essential to his music.
It is hard to say much besides that And
was altered excessively. For years, his cult following, myself included, knows what Jonah Matranga is capable of achieving. And
isn’t it and certainly shouldn’t speak for his previous albums. There is not doubt that Jonah Matranga will find his niche again, just not this time.