Pretty sure there’s not much else you could potentially do to raise expectations any higher; citing comparisons like Jeff Buckley, David Bowie, Beck and Radiohead on his social-media pages – Jonni Slater has set himself up to have to really deliver after such a comment. Question of course…is can he live up to the standards and ideals of these standout artists & bands he has listed; that would be impressive company for any independent artist to keep! Admittedly, we’re on the Jonni-train a little late – some of you out there already know this solo-artist from Bristol, UK, is making a hard-charged music that really does push the boundaries & provokes much discussion and thought from Jonni’s last time out just earlier this year when he released Lights as an advance single from the EP this past March in 2015.
Jonni Slater’s Hold On EP opens pretty epically really – the beginning crunch and build-up take the title-track’s sound all over the map by the time it breaks to give way, going from a sound that you’d think would lead to something akin to Muse to a more modern-day Elvis Costello of sorts. Absolutely loving the subtle guitar work in the chorus – there are some killer key-additions to the sound & melody being added in there from Jonni that sound fantastic. It’s a wild combination that cleverly works its magic through the bold dynamics in his song-writing all finding their way to a precise assembly that never sounds forced and yet still sounds completely inventive without feeling awkward. Already displaying he’s anything but typical – “Hold On” goes a long, long way to convince us he belongs to the company he’d like to be keeping in those listed comparisons. Truly refreshing opening to this EP that sets it all off in a perfect atmosphere & ensuing melody.
“In The Fire” opens up in a slow-burning intensity you can instantly feel with expand and blow wide-open. Though it will make you wait somewhat for its full-scale boil, along the way you get some wicked bass played by Josh Duddridge that fits in smoothly against the crisp-snaps of drummer Ian Bostic’s solid beats. You also get a better sense of what a powerful & controlled singer that Slater can be than through the opening tune and he really brings this song home at the end as the music switches up to a tribal-pounding end.
Of the four songs, it’d be hard to find any flaws to make a hard complaint about; the Hold On EP has come out solidly…but I found each time that “Arrows” came on I latched onto it more and more. In many ways it’s the most gentle-natured song on the EP, but I also found it to be one of the most powerful in emotion and lyrical content. It’s like a recipe that has just the right amount of everything you have in the cupboard without having to go out to get something else, all combined to make a totally new awesome creation. Beautifully melancholy guitars ring out; the eventual drum beat that kicks in really ties it all together as it heads towards the final minutes and stunning conclusion. A very, very tight track…the ending to “Arrows” comes around so naturally and logically but also retains that aspect of Slater’s music that tends to start building block upon block until it towers by the end compared to where it started.
Hold On ends with the pre-released single “Lights,” which actually reminds me of one of my favourite still-mainly-unknown bands called Eskimo Joe. Anyone that has heard their album Black Fingernails, Red Wine would instantly suggest that Slater jump on the bill with that band to support…possibly even headline, as he certainly proves through the passionate performance in “Lights” that he’d be capable! Really wicked ending though – this song/single really does amp-up the energy just that little bit more to really edge this one concretely into your memory.
Lots of excellent work from Jonni Slater on this entire EP – he’s done a fantastic job and I’m certainly looking forward to more from him in the future.
Find out more from his official page at: http://www.jonnislater.com/
JER @ SBS – http://sleepingbagstudios.ca/