Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Album Review: Jonathon Long - Parables of a Southern Man

 Jonathon Long
Parables of a Southern Man
**and1/2 out of *****

Jonathon Long has been playing the blues his whole life and while road weary and already a Blues Award winner, he is still learning new tricks as his writing evolves and takes the front seat over his blistering guitar playing for his newest release Parables of a Southern Man.

The long running twelve song effort can draw comparisons to early Jason Isbell and Warren Haynes, two artists Long is clearly aspiring towards as Long lets his words and singing take over where his prodigy like playing had on past efforts.

A wide stylistic net is cast with roadhouse swagger, gospel reverence, country rambles and at the heart of all of it is the blues. Perhaps most surprisingly is the cleaned up tone and sound on the album as Long seems to be shooting for a mid 80's Robert Cray clarity and texture. 

That vibe can be clearly heard tracks like the slick "Landline", the cleaned up to almost pop levels "All I Need" and "My Kind of Crazy" which could be played over the finale of a romantic comedy. Even the boogie ready "My Kind Of Woman" which starts out seemingly in a back woods ZZ Top fashion, pulls back and shoots for the middle of the road with the fuzzy rough edges cut off and the tone slicked back.    
While the blues will always be there for Long, the new style of songwriting is intriguing, rarely does he dip into cliches with his lyrics, however that can lead to a few clunky exchanges. Opener "Madison Square Garden" is a great example, delivering his large hopes and dreams to the masses with a cool take on things around bright guitar lines and vibrant piano work; here's hoping he sings it there one day.  

The dynamite guitar work in "The Ride" outweighs the slower singer songwriter "Pain" while "Savior's Face" is his best lyric, holding up the hypocrisy of some worshipers with relevance and gospel fueled power.  Long has made a clear tonal shift to more mainstream polished success on Parables of a Southern Man hopefully opening doors to a wider audience.  
Support the artist, buy the album and peep some video below:

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