'Special Measures' by Jono WrightReview
Today's debutant in the magazine is Jono Wright (you may know him from the Mos Eisley Brothers) whose debut album ‘Special Measures' came out a few days ago, following his debut EP ‘6' from 2018. The title comes from his experiences in education (I'm sure it will send shivers down the backs of some of you) and the content, while emanating from a Warwickshire artist, comes from his love of Nashville music (nurtured by his father), specifically the technique of Chet Atkins, resulting in a set of guitar based instrumentals: not the sort of thing we get to talk about too much or too often in these pages.
Produced with George Shilling (who has worked Billy Bragg, Bernard Butler, Steve Winwood and Primal Scream among others; he also plays ‘cello on four tracks) at the Manor Garden Studios in Newton Abbot, Gareth Pearson (who guided & encouraged Jono to develop the fingerstyle of playing) provides additional guitar on "Gone Fishing", otherwise it's all Jono.
The songs on the album ("Rubecula", "Shiver", "Ziggy's Bounce", "146", "Jenny Wren", "Last Train", "Special Measures", "Gone Fishing", "End of the Road" and "Sweet Dreams") lack words, but they do not lack meaning, as each was created with a precise aim & it's a credit to him that he manages to tell stories without any recourse to lyrics: pretty much what pure music should do. Therefore tracks tackle such diverse subjects as the loss of a loved one, the artist's dog and his mother: consequently the tone & mood vary most agreeably.
What I would like to focus on though is the sound: when you see "Nashville" and "Chet Atkins", country music is the first thing that comes to mind (well it does for me anyway), but that frankly would not be how I'd describe ‘Special Measures'. I consider it much more of a "classical" album: the presence of the ‘cello of course enhances this, but by no means determines it. What you hear sits often somewhere between chamber music (quite baroque in places) and Bert Jansch flavoured folk: a great deal of dignity & poise whether tending towards the melancholy or the celebratory. I also liked how Jono made sure each track was as long as necessary: a couple are very short as clearly he felt they said what he wanted & saw no need to over-extend them. Others develop over longer periods.
It's pretty different to much of what we review: certainly from what I've been writing about most recently, but this is a classy addition to music of Coventry & Warwickshire.