JONO MCCLEERY – THERE IS (Counter/Border) CD REVIEW

HERE COMES ANOTHER one. Another singer-songwriter who sacrilegiously takes Nick Drake’s melancholia, and makes it a lifestyle choice; another beige-coloured minstrel who disrespectfully takes Jeff Buckley’s multi-octave intensity, and turns it into vocal vanity.
And yet apparently, Jono McCleery is eliciting rave reviews.
McCleery (a British songwriter who’s on his second outing) is one more in a recent line of introspective strummers – most notably Fink – who combine acoustic picking with electronic beats and pieces. It’s a genre that’s mind-bendingly boring except for the poor naïve lovelorn women who have convinced themselves that he’s really sensitive and the way men should be in the real world.
As far as it goes, There Is is nicely cooked. The sound and arrangements are mellow and muted and there’s nothing jarring about them. There’s even some strings, because we all know that when you combine a mellow voice with mellow acoustic guitar and a lovelorn lyric the grown up way to accentuate all this is with some elegiac, slightly weeping strings. But the recording is oddly constrained. There’s none of the expansiveness of say, Nick Drake’s sound world – no woody, textured basses or cellos. In fact, the whole thing is notable for its lack of any grit or texture, as if it’s stuck somehow in a digital bubble, and as nice as it sounds, just never sounds fully animated.
No, There Is just won’t do. Even McCleery’s cover of that great Black song from the ‘80s, ‘Wonderful Life’, lacks the intended resonance, and the whole thing is limited by his own very limited vocal register. But it’s worst crime is that it’s dull. GARY STEEL
Sound = 2.5
Music = 2.5

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