Sunday, July 4, 2010

CD Review: JONA BYRON - EXTINCT HEARTS (Popboomerang)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Byron’s has been a common name on the billboards of venues specialising in acoustic nights, but here he dispenses with sole reliance on his Maton and employs his more than competent band The Boats and friends to flesh out the seven songs contained on Extinct Hearts, a prelude to his full album début planned for next year.

Byron’s lyricism is his key talent and songs are built around his acute observations and abstruse depictions, perfectly reiterated by the dark and saturated artwork, bringing to mind Neil Young’s Tonight’s The Night. With gorgeous backing vocals from Vicuna Coat’s Kat Winduss the opening title track is a highlight: “Talk about things that matter the most / Everything matters to me / Every single creature on earth / Every dwarf star and every blue birth / Every microscopic strain of life / Changes right before our eyes”. With a worldview like this, and its totally honest expression, you can expect Byron to be a reliable, sensitive and honest narrator. This sensitivity has clearly taken a beating and risen stronger and more perceptive because of it. Joan of Arc and Arm Yourself especially present him as a man ready to take on a world that he has sucked the marrow from.

Though his lyrics frame the music there is are moments of great musical beauty, the backing for Beautiful Bird set aloft through Pete Uhlenbruch’s flute and beautifully simple string arrangements, sweetening the sting of Byron’s lyrics. There is an uncomfortable intimacy at times that some may find off-putting, but for those brave enough to take the ride, one that concludes with a brave and disorienting take on The Times They Are A Changin’, there is a fierce intelligence at work on Extinct Hearts, one that will likely be even bettered on his forthcoming album.

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