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Quick Hits: Jon Solo / Ark Royal

April 26, 2016

jonsolo

Jon Solo‘s Ornithology is the chill EP everyone wants to make but not everyone has the skill to pull off. Solo’s comforting voice, gentle arrangements, and careful album construction take the listener on a relaxing journey that is interesting in every track. “Audubon” is the centerpiece of the work, giving a tender retelling of the famed naturalist’s life. Surrounding it are four full tunes plus an intro and an outro that excellently frame the album. “I Don’t Know Why” and “She’s My Rome” are standouts in addition to “Audubon,” the sort of tunes that stick with you afterwards.

Solo uses all the standard tools of delicate folk-pop-indie music (guitar, piano, subtle accompanying instruments), but employs them all with a clarity and confidence that make the tunes pop instead of turn to heard-it-all-before mush. Ornithology is a “walking around Los Angeles with my hands in my pockets” record: one that invites you to wander around and see an extra shine that the music gives to things. It’s a beautiful collection that is very worth your time.

arkroyal

Ark Royal‘s self-titled EP takes a different folk tack: where Jon Solo plays gentle, urban, modern folk, Ark Royal draws from energetic, pastoral, traditional roots.

These Londoners are full of thumping percussion, multipart harmonies, and the sounds of the British Isles: “Delivered” has some early ’00s Brit-pop baked into its soaring arrangement, while “Fork End Road” sounds like Proto-Mumford (I say this approvingly) in its picking pattern, brash vocal style, and vocal melodies. “Penny” is for all the world an Irish ballad (although it appears they wrote this one themselves), while “Humble River” includes rhythmic clapping evocative of Irish and Scottish tunes in the midst of a modern, mid-tempo, piano-led ballad. Whether slow or fast, the tunes are full of life. If you’re into folk music from the UK and parts thereabout, you’ll have a great time listening to Ark Royal.

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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