“Jonny Craig Continues Vocal Excellency In His Solo Release” (Quadnews.net)
In today’s music, it is very rare to see a truly talented vocal musician. The prominence of auto-tuned spews of sexual innuendo and four-word choruses have overshadowed and hidden the truly talented vocalists in the modern music industry. The ongoing trend of solo albums from former front men has also been a topic I have been extremely skeptical as of late. These two grievances were shattered when I came across the new album by singer Jonny Craig.
Craig is the former lead singer of two post-hardcore bands I have been fairly obsessed with over the past year or two: Dance Gavin Dance and Emarosa. Having departed Dance Gavin Dance after their 2007 album “Downtown Battle Mountain,” Craig has since fronted Emarosa as their new front man. In early 2009, Craig released three solo singles via MySpace and on June 30th he officially announced the August 18th release date of his solo album “A Dream is a Question You Don’t Know How to Answer.” He was signed and officially listed as Rise Records first and only solo artist to this date.
Having been a huge fan of his previous work with Dance Gavin Dance and Emarosa, I had to check the album out. Before listening, I really had no idea what to expect. His album with Dance Gavin Dance contained songs combining aspects of post-hardcore, jazz fusion, and other unidentifiable genre-bending sounds. An equal degree of originality existed within his work with Emarosa, leaving me to wonder what Craig by himself would sound like. What resulted was perhaps the best album I have listened to in two years.
Craig has a vocal talent second to none in the rock realm today. His ability to sing in a soft melodic voice and lay down wails that push the limit of the human larynx form a distinctive and distinguishable sound standard in all of his songs. It’s very rare that I follow a vocalist from band to band, but Craig’s talent is something that continuously surpasses the music he sings over.
The musical contribution to the album is also unquestionably amazing. For fans of Dance Gavin Dance and Emarosa: this is not the distorted guitar riffs and unorthodox melodies that you’re used to. Even with more orthodox time signatures and song structure, the album still manages to pull together an amazing and unique sound. Having multiple contributing musicians, the main ones being members of the Australian progressive rock band Closure In Moscow (who I had the privilege of seeing live early in 2009), the sound combines simple melodic guitar parts with shredding fusion solos that add to both the background and foreground of each song they grace.
While I consistently listen to the whole album on loop, there are a few tracks I would highly recommend to new listeners that display the true sound I boast about on this album. One of the first singles, “Istillfeelher Part III,” is a continuation of Emarosa’s “A City Called Coma Part II” that displays both the aforementioned soft and hard sides of Craig’s vocal range. The song “What I Would Give to Be Australian” features both amazing solo guitar work by Closure In Moscow’s Michael Barrett and a beautiful vocal appearance by Allison Green. Other amazing tracks include the dark, charged lyrics of “7 am. 2 Bottles and the Wrong Road,” the acoustic proclamations of “Children of Divorce,” and the amazing emotional sound of “Taking Time for All the Wrong Things.”
While I have been hyping this album up for around 600 words now, I cannot truly do it justice until you pick up a copy and give it a listen. The distinctive sound of Craig’s voice and the slew of talented musical contributions make “A Dream is a Question You Don’t Know How to Answer” an instant favorite for anyone ready for real talent to take back the spotlight.
Published Version: The Quad News 2/7/10