Jonathon Long – Parables of a Southern Man
It’s difficult to review some viable, talented artists because when they excel in certain areas & fall short in others — you don’t know if you should criticize or dismiss them entirely…or just be honest.
Jonathon Long’s definitely a focused, exceptional blues guitarist. His voice having sufficient blues tonality despite being miles from the roots of blues vocally. This is not Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, or even John Mayall. The roots of these blues are closer to white blues (Canned Heat, Ten Years After, Kim Wilson, Savoy Brown).
It’s diluted by the decades but not the artist. Jonathon at times adds pepper. The issue? The blues is a vintage genre. Speaks volumes about pain, suffering, loneliness, hard labor, disappointment, incarceration, broken hearts, & being low down. Few blues singers today ever experienced this first hand enough to sing about it.
Over the decades many great young blues artists have performed. Long can be added. But not as a pioneer or innovator. Some of this music today has been lost in translation. Newer songs have roots in the blues soil, but they’re dandelions, not trees. Vocals can be borderline poser. A route Long avoids as best as he can. He is sincere.
12-cuts on Parables of a Southern Man (Wild Heart) came late to me (dropped July 2). Many lyrics are cliches & the subjects of the songs are tepid, standard-fare & old hat. Why am I being critical? Because Jonathon Long is a great virtuoso, lyrical guitarist, similar in tradition to the late Leslie West. But while Long’s guitar soars his lyrics are characterized by roads traveled better by his peers.
Jonathon has a bright hot campfire in his songs, but others had bonfires. The Baton Rouge musician learned the ropes on the juke joint circuit. He emotes & expresses himself well & provides some soul in his vocals but the songs are too typical for someone who has exemplary talent in his fingers. I guess it doesn’t translate to his pen.
I’ve listened more than once. There’s a commonality to these tunes, though well-articulated they’re business as usual. Guitar solos bristle faithfully but don’t elevate these songs. I just expect a guitarist as good as Jonathon Long to have songs that go with the expertise of his playing. I’m not expecting the excitement of the Butterfield Blues Band (“East-West,” “Mary, Mary”), but Jonathon is capable.
When Jonathon’s good — he’s great. “Dangerous,” has lift & yes, even this has typical applications but his vocals & playing are incendiary. “My Kind of Crazy,” doesn’t belong at all. “That Ain’t Love,” & “Cheap Romance,” (probably the best song on the CD) has momentum, & good vocals.
Mindful of the late great compelling blues-guitarist John Campbell is Long’s “Savior’s Face.” That’s excellent. The LP title is the best title & there’s no song called “Parables of a Southern Man.”
Produced by Samantha Fish with Nicholas David (keys), Charlie Wooton (bass), Scott Graves (drums/percussion) & Jonathon (guitars/vocals). Exceptional musicianship.
The 46-minute CD is available @ https://www.jonathonlongmusic.com/