Monday, November 27, 2017
Album Review: Jono - Life
I say that because as each pre-release track from this no JONO album was unveiled, it was the only thing I could think of. JONO is a band (rightly) focused on Johan Norby's vocals, which have the kind of dramatic tone a musical theater pro would kill for. He is a heck of a talent as a singer. His voice is rich, striking, and suitably operatic for the more emotional parts of rock music. What he is not, however, is a very good songwriter, and apparently the other members of the band aren't either.
While Johan's voice is stellar, the tracks he has given himself to sing are anything but. It gives us an album that lives on a precarious perch; is Johan's talent enough to overcome lackluster songs? In other words, we revert back to my opening question about whether talent alone is enough to truly be praiseworthy. After listening through "Life", I am inclined to come down on the side of saying that no, it is not. That's not to say that "Life" is a bad album, because that is a different argument. You can't compare this album to the releases put out by bands like Quiet Riot or Pain Of Salvation, which were nearly unlistenable. This album but contrast, is just boring.
The problem is that Johan is a singer with a voice that should be singing sky-scraping melodies that embrace the drama of the musical backdrop his band gives him. They are, in a way, kindred rock and roll spirits to Meat Loaf, in that they both have theater running through their delivery. But whereas Meat Loaf had Jim Steinman to give him songs that were clever, original, and always memorable, Johan has music that sounds like a watered-down version of "Gutter Ballet" era Savatage. Jon Oliva was able to pull it off well, because he and Paul O'Neil played into that side of the music, and Jon's deliver was always fiery enough to sell the material.
Johan, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have the passion for the music he's singing that I would expect. He's not phoning it in, but he's disconnected from his own material. The emotion never comes through, which considering how the melodies themselves are often non-existent, means there isn't anything to listen to but for the bare tone of his voice. I'm sorry, but I need more than just a voice if I'm going to be able to enjoy an entire album.
JONO has a good sound, but they do nothing with it. This album is a huge missed opportunity, and I'm sorry to say it's not worth finding time during this busy holiday season to give it a chance.