The last time we heard of Londoner Jono McCleery at Contact Towers, he was taking Maribou State's recent album 'Portraits' to a piquant level of high grain via his turn on 'Say More', the sort of brooding, wounded soul epic for which his gorgeously burnt voice was made for.
Adding these crafted flourishes is becoming, it seems, a useful habit; one which could be the reason we've been rationed to a paltry deuce of solo albums so far - 2008's crowd funded 'Darkest Light' and 2012's lustrous, multi-faceted 'There Is'. Close both in spirit and use of textures to occasional tour mate Fink, McCleery is clearly not one to rush the process: 'Pagodes' in turn, however, is well worth his obvious attention to detail.
McCleery's music feels like it should be easy to categorise, but its endless subtleties make that handle elusive: an uneducated ear might even be moved to dismiss it as being insubstantial, even given the degrees of neo, post XX sparseness that count as today's production values. But this is anything but perpetual wallpaper. Robert Wyatt's most poignant moment was on the desultory anti-Falkands ballad 'Shipbuilding', but here McCleery takes the cerebral 1985 social commentary of Wyatt's 'Age of Self' and reverts its dated machine-pop into an agrarian, proto revolutionary song, recalling an era where people could still be moved to action by things as simple as an ideology and words of hope and inclusion.
Continue reading: Jono McCleery - Pagodes Album Review
Let's get one thing straight from the off; I'm a grizzled part time rock hack, and when I see a bio that mentions not just Jeff Buckley and John Martyn in it as artist reference points - and then goes on to throw in Nick Drake and Marvin Gaye for good measure - my bullshit-o-meter starts going off like an IED. Jono McCleery's second album therefore arrives with not so much a ripple but a tidal wave of expectation set against it, on the basis that anyone who even allows their PR's to casually mention Buckley, let alone Drake, needs to be delivering on their promises, and how.
Continue reading: Jono McCleery, There Is Album Review