Thursday, August 23, 2012

Jon Samuel: "First Transmission" (album review)

You may not be familiar with the name Jon Samuel, but if you are a fan of Canadian independent music, you're likely familiar with the band he plays in: Wintersleep.  The multi-instrumentalist Samuel releases his solo debut, First Transmission, on August 28th.

The album is a collection of elaborate, yet laid back songs, the kind of thing you would expect from a musician who seems to enjoy dabbling with sounds at his own pace.  That comes through from the get-go with the relaxed, thoughtful and melodic title track.

Samuel has the ability to draw on a rich, multi-faceted sound to create his sonic mosaic.  On the outstanding "To Love" he blends a near-falsetto vocal with a string arrangement, building both into a sweet, tender crescendo.  It's easy to get lost in "The Man Who Fell To Earth".  The song has a Sci Fi flavour with wonderful synths that will have you bounding around in zero gravity.

From time-to-time Samuel can rock out as well.  The guitar fuzz and forceful bottom end of "NADA" is all the proof you need.

Rah Rah's Erin Passmore lends her charming vocals to the closer "Maelstrom Lyric".  The whimsical duet is an absolute thing of beauty.

With this album Samuel proves that the spotlight should be shining on him.  If there is any justice in this cruel world, First Transmission will not be his last.

Best tracks: "To Love", "Maelstrom Lyric"

Track listing for First Transmission:
  • First Transmission
  • To Love
  • Relic
  • Follow the Leader
  • NADA
  • Crater
  • Darkwood
  • End Transmission
  • The Man Who Fell To Earth
  • Maelstrom Lyric

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