When the opportunity arose to write a review for an artist based in Nashville’s new EP I was fairly certain I was going to be listening to what was essentially country music, with maybe a dash of pop. What I didn’t expect, and what I actually got, what something that has references to funk, pop, 80s synth pop, rock, country, indie and more. I’ve wondered for a while now whether the genre is a dying term, we’ve always had collaborations between rappers and pop stars, more recently rappers and country, EDM and country, EDM and rock to name a few. It is not as simple anymore to put music into a corner with a generic label about what it is, and this EP proves that, successfully combining multiple genres and styles to create an incredible journey through so many different sounds. If I had to summarise this EP in one sentence, I’d say that there is something for everyone to enjoy.
The first track, Imogene was my introduction to this EP and welcomed me to the combination of styles that would be on offer to me throughout. The vocal sounds reminiscent of the pop rock mastery of Chris Martin with impressive pitch bending and seamless transitions between octaves but this is combined with the folky undertones of an early Bob Dylan. The song starts off with that simple and folk love song feel but eventually builds into somewhat of a power ballad. The way this piece of music is written is tremendous and that hark back to Bob Dylan gives it the feel of a classic, being based around the name of the girl; Imogene and describing all the things that he loves about her.
So, having told us about his love for Imogene, the second offering in the EP is Heartbreak. This song brings in much more of what I had originally expected with a country like introduction on the guitar but the song throughout seems to hop back and forth over the sometimes thin line between country and folk music. Whatever the style though, Heartbreak gives another beautifully honest encounter of the tough times of lost love. The song at points sounds like a plea with lines such as ‘don’t leave me if you love me at all’ and then becomes more about the pain felt after the heartbreak has happened. It actually has a surprisingly upbeat feel for something with such heavy sentiments, I think this is because of a certain freedom that works its way into the song; despite all the pain and suffering that the artist mentions there is also a line ‘I don’t care who sees my heartbreak’ – a point which the artist has reached in which they have been so torn up over love lost that the sadness has finally become overwhelming and they have begun to let it go. This rises to a climax in the final stages of the song with an almost chant like repetition of ‘I don’t care’; as if the artist has found some emotional freedom and release of anger in letting their emotions out instead of trying to hide them away.
Leather Jacket is the peak in the middle of the EP for me. It was the first single released from the collection and it isn’t hard to see why; it takes on a much more indie vibe but is infused with a retro 1980s style synth pop feel, it is just one of those songs where it is impossible not to tap your foot along to. The layering of the busy and catchy bassline with the drums that punctuate it underneath the guitar and vocals all just combine so well to create this groove that just seems to drive and drive and drive. The song is about an interesting tipping point within a relationship; Jon himself described it as an “event horizon moment” referring to a realization of what is about to happen with an inability to stop it – within the song and within the context of a relationship this refers more to the small but notable changes in a partner’s behaviour or attitude that can often suggest that something isn’t quite right; or worse, the beginning of the end. The chorus encapsulates this with the singer saying he recognises the look in his partners eyes, how she likes a certain leather jacket and tries to hide behind some new glasses that she doesn’t need. Between each line there is a distant cry of 'I know' – signalling that the singer is aware that all these small things tell him that her feelings have changed. It is an incredibly upbeat and catchy song for again a sad topic but I think it almost encapsulates frustration or anger at picking up on these little signs and having that feeling that the end is near. This is signalled again in the chorus with lines about how she doesn’t know what she needs from him and trying to look in herself for something she won’t find, showing the frustration in the relationship from the artist who can see his partner pulling away but knows there is little he can do to stop it.
Love Blind has the difficult task of following Leather Jacket but more than holds its own. It again has the style infusion element with a very rock and pop type feel at the beginning but a very distinctive slide guitar in the background can only suggest country. The song takes a different perspective to Leather Jacket in that it looks inwards during the time of heartbreak. Instead of talking about their partner the artist focuses on themselves. It actually takes on a very positive view of failed love, focusing more on the elements of learning and becoming stronger through the difficult times and generally improving through the journey. This is encapsulated when the artist sings that he was told that love doesn’t come easy but it took being broken hearted to realise; underpinning that message that despite the bad times there are ultimately lessons to be learned. Despite taking a different approach to Leather Jacket, this is another catchy and upbeat tune that is great to listen to.
Come Now Spring finishes off the EP, starting with a John Mayer like feel to it in the simple plucked guitar riff. The vocal over the top is beautiful, as is the sentiment of the song. It is very cleverly written in that it portrays hope through a contrast between the good and bad, focusing on the break up with lines such as ‘she left me wandering down that cold and lonesome road’ but then talking about the optimism of spring with the title line ‘come now spring time, time for love to grow’. This for me is also fantastic imagery, with the cold and lonesome road giving a wintery feel before the artists sings of the imminent spring which will bring that warmth of new love growing, with spring time being the time best known for new life and growth.
Petrichor is an excellent EP. Not only does it sound great by managing to successfully incorporate an abundance of styles and influences, it is also very cleverly set out in that it is like this journey. We start with the love felt for someone in Imogene before Heartbreak and Leather Jacket introduce us to the opposite side, the endings of relationships. We then move to Love Blind in which when surrounded by the rubble of a crumbled relationship the artist decides to build, focusing on learning lessons and improving through the tough times. This then climaxes beautifully at the end with a renewed sense of optimism in Come Now Spring where the artist is looking forward to new love now that they have had time to recover and grow. One of the great things about this EP though is that you can enjoy it whether you partake in the journey or not. Whilst I recommend listening through the EP in its true order to get that real sense and deeper feeling for the songs they are also just really great on their own; each offering something slightly different. I have to say Leather Jacket stands out for me, it is such a catchy and entertaining song whether you choose to look further into its meaning or not; it is one of those tracks that makes me either want to dance or go for a drive with the windows down and the volume up.