Opening the absolutely brilliant sparkling self-titled album Jawbone with Leave No Traces. One thing for certain there is no trace this is a debut album from a new band and it reflects the experience from the other varied projects the quartet have worked on over the years. Jawbone from the oft will be leaving an indelible mark on our ears and music, of memories that sound delicious. In fact, this was the first song Paddy and Marcus wrote together the theme of being lost without a purpose of going unnoticed captured in Marcus’ deep melodic vocals as he sings “Heaven doesn’t want me … the Devil doesn’t know who I am…” As this refrain repeats it is far more than a chorus firstly it is sung as a solo with strong well-structured harmonizing an outstanding trademark throughout the whole album.
Jawbone may be a new band on the block but they have all experienced life on the road, having worked together in other bands and with myriad artists. These are the experiences that they distil with influences from defining bands including Little Feat and Crosby Stills, Nash & Young, The Band (their name is the first connection). This creates the distinctive and addictive ‘Jawbone Vibe’ one of organic honesty. These easy on the ear melodic sounds are full of a complexity of tones and a stinging edge of rawness. The songs all have a hidden pearl in the oyster the lyrics. There is a magical ease of delivery on every arrangement.
Again on vocal duty by Marcus, deep with the warmth of dark brown chestnuts roasting on an open fire. His vocals warm the melodies contrasting the keys of Paddy and rhythmic swell of Evan on drums and bassist Rex. When Your Gun Is Loaded co-written once again with Paddy a winning partnership, the songs build and the tones and textures reverberate with the legacy of rock ‘n’ roll and the creativity of new contemporary shaping of the chords and key changes. They create a soundscape that shapes the emotions of the number as in Family Man where the fears and restrictions and compromises that are the result of a family life. Here with an authenticity they hit face on a reflection of our everyday thoughts.
Tonal shaping changes with a semi-cowboy song, Bet On Yesterday. The weaving of the textures are bright and the song moves with a purpose, counter-intuitive to the lyrics. Paddy sings about loss, life is not the smooth road of expectation. Leaving us to wonder what an elderly man had experienced to give his countenance to such a troubled feel. The song unfurls the melody slowly building an arrangement that sonically builds into the shape of our own unique journey. The closing chord stops leaving and your journey in abeyance to be continued. A very clever number. Followed by another as the tempo changes to a foot-stomping frolicking number, Rolling On The Underground. Not written for the album, but an early composition. As you go down, down, down listen and hear the underground ambience of a station being captured in the howls and wails with the soul of Little Feat.
Marcus’ voice is huge on Big Old Smoke a celebration of the town that Paddy, Evan and Rex migrated to and where Marcus was raised and returned to after studying at Liverpool. It is an ironic, cynical look at the magnetic pull of the capital city that is both laughable and annoying but still the best place to be a musician. How to follow irony and upbeat melodic flows, just tone the sound down. Simplify the delivery in a song celebrating friendship. The perfect symbol is sitting around the table chatting and laughing. This ambience is achieved with its folk/country twang which gives the voices a moment to join the conversation, whilst Evan deepens the groove and ensures harmony is maintained. Full of nostalgia but never saccharine sweet it is memories with honesty!
The piano under the control of Paddy opens Two Billion Heartbeats with a captivating simplicity. Building in its complexity as Marcus sings the lyrics. It is deep. We all have the same finite number of heartbeats. To be filled with love not melancholy it is essential to use your time wisely. Listening to Jawbone is a good use of your heartbeats it is the perfect way in fact. The song captures the tonal sonics of the 1960’s early Ten Years After among others in its simplicity of delivery.
Jawbone closing this stupendous ten-track debut, The Years Used To Mean So Much. The theme never far from the album nostalgia. A personal song once again beautifully sung by Paddy, through his eyes a simpler world of his childhood.
Jawbone are uniquely talented. The arrangement on every song captures the energy of the four members. The songs tell the story, the melodies shape the mood. Do not expect to be taken in a straight path from A to B. It is more like looking for a life theory a kaleidoscope with every turn of musical shape and form it delivers the shaping of our landscape changes. For good or ill. Driven by heaven or the devil Jawbone knows there is a song to deliver the emotion being explored. The album has songs as varied as life captured through Jawbone’s creative ears and eyes.
TENdoodle paws out of TEN …
- Leave No Traces
- Get What You Deserve
- When Your Gun Is Loaded
- Family Man
- Bet On Yesterday
- Rolling On The Underground
- Big Old Smoke
- Sit Around The Table
- Two Billion Heartbeats
- The Years Used To Mean So Much
Marcus Bonfanti – Guitar & Vocals
Paddy Milner – Keyboards & Vocals
Rex Horan – Bass
Evan Jenkins – Drums