woensdag 8 januari 2014

Jonathan, Ca. Long Conversations

One of the weirdest and totally failing shows I ever was present at, was at the same time so beautiful and at times intense. A show that was more of a rehearsal than a real gig. Long Conversations (at the time and The Closet Orchestra) played during a festival in Q-Bus Leiden in one of the rehearsal rooms of Muziekhuis Leiden, which is attached to Q-Bus. Snippets of a band played songs around a singer/acoustic guitar player. Songs that once they got going were so beautiful. A little Neil Young, singer-songwriter, alt.whatever. It made my end of year list with best gigs of that year. After that I sort of forgot about the band, until I recently ran into a review about a band called Long Conversations in Oor. Time to become active and listen.

Jonathan, Ca. is an album that could have been made by another band: Bright Eyes. It spells Connor Oberst in every groove and cranny of the record. O.k., I thought, let's put that realisation aside and go in search of Long Conversations. The first realisation then is, that the comparison foremost comes from the way Olaf Caarls sings and the way the vocal melodies are put over the songs. Once I had that down, I could concentrate on the music more. And that is where the main differences start to reveal themselves. Long Conversations plays songs that are much more free flowing than Bright Eyes ever has done. Pop, indie and even rock elements come into the songs that make them come alive and sparkle.

Looking from this angle a whole spectrum of pop music reveals itself. From Oasis's 'Wonderwall' to songs of Wilco (excluding master guitarist Nels Cline). Like the last band Long Conversations allows sweet, soft songs to explode. 'We build a fire' (which by the way starts with an old and curious recording about Germans and the U.S. at war, the first or second?: "It's time every citizen makes a choice" and a curious mistake about wooden shoes and Germans) explodes from a singer songwriter song into something close to an anthem. Rhythm guitar and an organ take over for a grand finale.

The band realises that it has options and plays with them. From the totally sweet 'Song for my sister', which is an acoustic guitar with organ embellishment track, straight into heavily feedbacking guitars in the intro of 'Carnation lake'. There is only a small difference at the heart of both songs, the slow versus mid-tempo singer-songwriter kind of song, but with a totally different outcome in mood and sound. It is this that makes Jonathan, Ca. not only a varied album, but also an intrinsically interesting album. Things are going on that force me to listen and listen again. Jonathan, Ca. is growing fast on me and probably will on all fans of bands that mix indie, singer-songwriter and pop into a blend of songs that stand out from the fold.

Jonathan, Ca. is an album that is out with the best in its genre. To me it beats every single album by Bright Eyes, can compete, except for the best songs, with Wilco and is more alive than any single song of Richmond Fontaine. Jonathan, Ca. is an album that came into my life too late to claim a spot in the top 10 of 2013. This is an encouragement for you to proceed to the next line, listener, because you find an album there that deserves more listeners. Don't be shy and click on the link below.


You can listen to Jonathan, Ca. here and buy it for a minimum of € 5,= as MP3.

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