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Sion Russell Jones

And Suddenly…

Sometimes an opening act takes a writer’s fancy and must be investigated – thus is was that at Charlotte Church’s Brighton new material show we caught this man. Street clothes and an amplified acoustic guitar plus gentle voice, so inevitably lazy journalists will tag SRJ a Taff Ed Sheeran.  But what Sion is doing is in a different vein altogether, so he deserves is own appraisal.

From his guitar playing I would guess that Sion Rusell Jones has listened to maybe John Prine, Willie Nelson, Ron Sexsmith ? There is a definite ease to the way he plays countryish stanza’s. He’s using the guitar to float his stories and embellish the melodies and  to his credit displays a pretty good range on this album, which is a still small voice production, by the way.

‘Mandy’ has a high-pitched urgency and muted xylophone and emphatic drumming on a song about missing a loved one with a guitar passage that eases the tune right back to the minimal.  It’s like Gilbert O’Sullivan without the whine. Folky harmonica ( a G ?) rides the rhythm.  ‘Lover Come Closer” has sprightly folk-pop canter as its base and is an expression of affection that doesn’t shriek. Radio-friendly and early Paul Simon to a T.

Title track ‘And Suddenly’ has an ethereal vocal layered intro which drops into a busy acoustic guitar with a neat ascent into an eager verse and quasi-calypso in form, with a family scenario and a chorus that is hard to resist. This is the kind of lively spring-heeled pop music that Sion can make with apparent ease but its vibe achieves a spiritual height way beyond the music that smashed-up-by -life human wrecks like your writer could ever attempt to make. Which makes it all the more appealing, as a fresh listen.

‘Way Back When’ is a curious title  choice for such a young artist and is an urban tale, dark but with beams of optimism leaking through. SRJ is in the mod to escape on this one.  ‘Indestructible’ is a fast-phrased pop gem riding on neat acoustic guitar interplay

Most addictive track for this listener is ‘Jimi The Space Cadet’, with its grin-inducing low-fi sci-fi spacey  effects and ping-harmonics laden intro. A time travel theme. Previous generations had Dan Dare as a favourite, this generation are all Marty McFly accolytes!

‘Thinking Of You’ is reflective with reverbed piano treading through the verses. Again catchy and gentle.

‘Maybe She’ll Remember’  is a phrase that reminds me of a schoolmate willing his mater in expletive-strewn playtime break hissing aloud NOT to buy own-brand cola when shopping. Ah, the nostalgia ! Paul Simon pacing to the fore, again. Lovely close harmony chorus.

‘Banana Song’ is an edgy love song, Sion sounds like a hyperactive Donovan Leitch here.

‘In Dreams’ ? The Roy Orbison lament ? No, a finger-picked and dreamy finale.

We know he’s pretty good live but here he has used the studio to decorate the songs and make them distinct from each other. Good move, it works well as a set of songs.

Pete Sargeant

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