Jonas Sees in Color - Jonas Sees in Color
Record Label: Glassnote
Release Date: September 29, 2009
Three things stand out immediately about Jonas Sees in Color. First, their name. If it's not obvious, the six-member band from Greensboro, North Carolina, derived their name from Lois Lowry's award-winning children's novel The Giver. I don't know if anyone else finds that as interesting as I do, but having been a pretty big fan of the book in elementary school (and having just reread it recently), I felt immediately drawn to them based on that choice. The second striking thing about Jonas Sees in Color is their enthusiasm and accessibility. I’ve seen them live twice, and they have a tirelessly positive energy on stage. Granted, that could be said about any number of bands, but Jonas Sees in Color do you one better. They maintain that same energy off-stage by recognizing and reaching out to their fans. Their willingness to connect on a personal level to listeners is so refreshing that it has undoubtedly turned some fair-weather fans into die-hard ones. The third incredible thing about Jonas Sees in Color is their music.
Jonas Sees in Color's self-titled debut is one of the most promising freshman albums I've heard in quite some time. They've restored my recently shaken faith in emerging bands to do something original. The new album consists mostly of upbeat pop-rock tracks, with a few, like "Sky Keeps Falling" and "Avalanche," that highlight their more sentimental side. Lead singer Ryan Downing has a distinctive voice that can be both sweet and smooth and, just as effortlessly, raw and powerful. His bandmates are equally talented, with Jonathan Albright and Jonathan Owens ruling at the guitar (and Owens backing up Downing's vocals), John Chester providing catchy drum beats, Michael Deming playing bass, and the keyboardist Meagan Beth Plummer, the band's only female member, completing the already top-notch package. They work extremely well together, with no one person stealing the show, and the result is a wonderfully melodic and highly enjoyable sound.
If you're like I am, then you admit that musical talent is important, but lyrics are what really hook you. Jonas Sees in Color deliver there, as well. There are so many good lines in the songs on this album that I'm not even sure where to start to give you a fair sampling. I could probably find something moving in every track. To give you a rough idea, though, "Loose Threads" makes an immediate impression ("And if you can't take the weather you can take my sweater with the loose threads..."), as does the closing track "Water on the Rise" ("...he chose the rosary; I chose the gallows, 'cause I'd rather be gone than stay here alone, have the whole wide world, but nowhere to call home. I'd rather be lost than have nowhere to go.") The opening track, "I Own These Streets" is particularly strong both musically and lyrically, as is "West Coast," a track that took some time for me warm up to. ("You're like a sidewalk cracked in the heat of a summer with all the children jumping over for good luck..." ) Even "Stand Tall," a motivational track like ones I would typically find cliché, redeems itself somehow.
The changes in arrangement and lyrics that Jonas Sees in Color made to the three tracks their fans are likely to be familiar with ("Loose Threads," "Avalanche," and "Luck and Love," all featured on the 2007 Avalanche EP) are solid improvements, which I certainly wouldn't have thought possible having heard the original versions. Their adaptability and determination to grow as artists has served them well. Overall, the album is a remarkable achievement that's sure to please. My advice: add some color to your music collection and check it out, ASAP! You'll be glad you did.
Little late, but great review. I met these guys when they were on tour with the fold and they were phenominal.
Covered queen's bohemian rapsity, including the operatic part that Queen didn't even do live, and it was absolutely breath-taking. Highly recommended.