The Volunteers



by steveconygre USER (7 Reviews)
February 26th, 2005 | 2 replies

Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist

Onelinedrawing is Jonah Matranga basically, so he can be considered the only writer on this, but many other people play parts on the album, in this way it is comparable to Bright Eyes.

Soundwise Bright Eyes is a fairly good comparison, anyone who has heard Far knows about Jonah's voice, and this project is designed to showcase and the intimate personal songwriting he can often achieve by himself with an acoustic guitar.

1. New York (2/5) 0:46
An introductory track that ties in with Portland later it sorta sounds like it belongs on "The Sims" computer game. It's very short so not worth skipping, but not a particularly interesting piece in its own right

2. Over it (4/5) 3:11
This sng starts with a simple acoustic guitar riff and a far away sounding drumbeat, then Jonah's trademark voice comes in, slightly more whispery than usual. After the first verse the guitar becomes slightly distorted and the drumbeat becomes more prominent with lots more cymbal clashes which doesn't really work this early on. The chorus is big and lifting and the sound continues to a bridge where just the guitar and Jonah play, before he is joined by a backing choir of friends of family that close the track by repeating the chorus with Jonah singing in a higher pitch. A good first track.

3. A ghost (5/5) 3:11
This time a programmed drumbeat starts things off and Jonah's voice is back into its whispery phase. Some programmed effectsaccompany aslightly muted acoustic guitar riff that creates a sort of ethereal feeling, especially when accompanied by the lyrics that seem to be about past loves. The chorus is much less big than the previous song but you will be singing along or humming. The part that gets this song 5/5 is the bridge. Here the drumming and the guitar stops for a second before Jonah's voice rises as high as he can without straining himself. It's immensely powerful and usually hooks in anyone that's listening. the track isslow and has an indie feel, and would suit listening on your own or in the background with friends.

4. Superhero (5/5) 2:44
A song about the things that happen when you fall in love and how you see people differently, like a superhero. The song starts with an acoustic guitar being picked rather than strummed and Jonah singing in his whisperish voice. The verse is also accompanied by a female voice, the name of whom I don't know. The quiet picked guitar line stays through the chorus along with effects that are sort of like the effects Frank Delgado of Deftones adds. During the chorus Jonah's voice is given an echo type effect that works well and the song fades with Jonah singing "love will find a way". Definitely a romantic, slow and quiet song, the power is in Jonah's delivery rather than heavy riffs so is wonderful for putting on when laying in bed with your girlfriend or boyfriend.

5. Stay (4/5) 4:51
Again opening with a picked clean guitar riff it is a bit more uptempo and then Jonah's voice starts the song proper with a chorus and echo effect. A song asking a lover to stay with him I think the verse ends with crashing cymbals that works a lot better than in "over it" with the crashes continuing into a chorus of one word; "Stay." The picked riff changes but is still picked. The second verse with an "ahhh" that sounds similar to something My Morning Jacket would do. The cymbals then lead into the second chorus, which although only consisting of one word is very powerful yet not catchy or hummable like some of the other tracks. On the whole the track is again very relaxed and romantic and is much better at providing a romantic backdrop than many other "indie" bands at the moment.

6. We Had a Deal (5/5) 3:39
The second track to feature a distorted electric this was released as a single I think, and had an accompanying video. Opening with an acoustic riff and Jonah singing rather than whispering it quickly moves on to the electric riff (fairly simple) taking over and faster paced drumming. The chorus on this song is absolutely huge, close to the ones Jonah is achieving these days with Gratitude. The song itselfis fairly basic and really is here to show off Jonah's voice I think, but provides a catchy underlying rhythm before a quiet bridge with Jonah whispering and then ending with it getting louder and Jonah letting out a shouted "Go!" and the instruments crash their way to the end of a good track.

7. Oh, Boys (3/5) 2:59
A quirky song that implies Jonah has had boyfriends and that they have caused him a lot of trouble he compares them to mechanics that keep "f*cking up his car". Lyrically very funny and clever the programmed drums are back and often it's just them his voice and a strum of the guitar every 2 bars or so. Here the music isn't very strong I feel and this is a shame becuase the lyrics really are very good. It's much more off kilter than the songs and you may find yourself skipping it occasionally.

8. Livin' small (4/5) 4:12
A song that berates the amount of cheesy marketing and merchandising that has come into the punk world (Good Charlotte anyone) This is much stronger muscally with acoustic picked lines that capture the smallness of indie rock that makes it much more personal featuring. Jonah's voice is mostly in his whispered tone, and only really becomes much more powerful in the bridge. Whilst a very good listen it's not spectacular.

9. Believer (4/5) 3:50
Another sweet, yet unromantic song about the end of a romance I think. This song doesn't really accomplish much that hasn't been done earlier in the album but is so wonderfulin places that you can forgive it. When it opens with "So long, bye bye" you know you'rein for a very sad song, and the mid tempo picked acoustic guitar line reflects this. Throughout the song Jonah's voice is about halfway between his whisper and powerful singing. If you listen to this alone you will sing along because it is simple, yet captures emotions so well. Violins feature later in the song, they add to the song but onl in the way effects had earlier in the album had. Very very good yet not pushing his boundaries I feel.

10. Portland (2.5/5) 4:47
A long ambient piece this is very similar to the start (it may even be the intro was taken off the start or end of this). If you desire background music this would work well maybe but if you have sat down to listen to the album you will skip this.

11. As much to myself as to you (5/5) 2:31
The shortest song on the album yet the best. Just Jonah and his guitar, his voice is whispered yet so raw that the emotion conveyed in this song is amazing. I think it's about a break up he didn't want yet had to happen due to circumstance, but I'm not sure. Jonah's voice doesn't go high, or even vary much but it is at its best. I cannot say enough good things about this wonderful slice of indie balladry.

In short, this is highly reccomended for fans of Jonah Matranga, and fans of Bright Eyes or Saves the Day should look into this too. It contains some of his best work. But there are only 9 "proper" songs on the album, and they aren't as diverse as he could make them with his talents. I'd say get "Visitor" first, and if you like it buy this and hear some of the folksy, indie he songs that are among the best he's written.

Overall 3.5/5

P.S. This was my first review, so if you could comment on the style it'd be appreciated.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
July 18th 2005


Album Rating: 4.0

great review i agree with everything you said. you are one of the few select that are apart of the Jonah nation!


April 27th 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent album.

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