Band of the Day

2012.07.02

Jon Allen

Honeyed folk-rock steeped in Americana and Rod Stewart
Let's sail upon the evening now, the wind is getting high. Let's step outside and drink in the air like wine.
lyrics from Joanna

Jon Allen is a UK based folk rock singer-songwriter originally from Winchester. He attended the prestigious Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA), founded by Sir Paul McCartney. Jon moved to London after graduating when one of his demos received a five-star review in the magazine Making Music, and soon after began receiving London management offers. His debut single “Going Home” was featured in a worldwide Land Rover TV commercial in 2008, leading to 20,000 song download’s from Jon’s website. With the success of “Going Home” he was able to self-fund the recording of his debut album, Dead Man’s Suit, which was released on June 1, 2009 on Monologue Records, after initially only being available as a digital download. Jon’s sophomore album, Sweet Defeat, which he has described as a break-up record, was released on May 23, 2011.

Though singer-songwriter Jon Allen is left-handed, he learned to play guitar as a teenager on a right-handed electric guitar, turned upside down. It wasn't for at least a year—and until a fateful day trying to learn the Beatles classic "I've Got a Feeling"—that he got a proper one in order to join a local cover band. Listening to Allen's powerful, Americana-leaning solo recordings, you can hear that same kind of starting commitment to his craft. Mixing elements of folk, rock and rootsy pop, Allen makes music that defies easy genre tags and instead exists in a place where a good voice and better tune make all the difference. And while Allen is still quite the guitar player, it’s his voice that really moves mountains. Championed by everyone from BBC Radio 1 to Jools Holland in the UK, the Winchester born, London crashing Allen has a set of pipes that will stop most listeners in their tracks. 2009’s breakthrough Dean Man’s Suit is essentially a showcase for his voice—one part rough Rod Stewart bravado, one part wounded Nick Drake hymn. But on 2011’s Sweet Defeat, Allen loosens up a bit, indulging in a more fleshed-out and eclectic set of tunes. The title track is a wonderful bit of mid-tempo pop, a Motown-inspired shuffle complete with barroom piano, horns, backing vocals and a jaunty beat. The sweet, melancholic "Love's Made a Fool Out of Me" channels classic 70's Paul McCartney, like a long lost Ram b-side with Stewart handling lead vocals. Other songs favor simplicity: "Last Orders" is just Allen, his whiskey-soaked voice and a delicately plucked acoustic guitar. "I’ll love you till the dance is over," he sings, pausing a measure for clarity. “I’ll love you till the music dies.” It’s a sweet sentiment, committing to someone till the very end of things. It’s also his most Dylan-esque moment, and a stark reminder of how powerful the human voice can be by itself.