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Jon Allen - Deep River

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 16 / 8 / 2014

Jon Allen - Deep River
Label: Monologue Records
Format: CD


Emotive and soulful third album from increasingly popular London-based but Winchester-born singer-songwriter, Jon Allen

London-based but Winchester-born Jon Allen’s third album was recently chosen as a Radio Two album of the week, which obviously opened up his music to a wider audience, but there’s every chance you might have heard at least a couple of Allen’s songs earlier even if you thought you’d never heard his captivating mix of folk and blues before. ‘Joanna’ a track from Allen’s second album, 2011’s ‘Sweet Defeat’, was played as the background music in a scene in the second season of 'Homeland', the acclaimed TV series. The same song was also featured in the movie ‘Safe Haven’, based on the book of the same name by Nicholas Sparks so there’s obviously something here that’s attracting the right attention. ‘Going Home’, from Allen’s 2009 debut, ‘Dead Man’s Suit’, was chosen to accompany an a advert for Land Rover, and while the song became popular due to its exposure it was far from the best Allen’s debut had to offer. But for those who still have to hear Allen’s music (or think they have) his latest album, ‘Deep River’, is a good place to start. Maybe it’s the equipment that this pair of ears listens to music on that makes the numerous comparisons to an early Rod Stewart seem an odd one, but, while admittedly a few songs such as ‘Down by the River’ from Allen’s debut do have a slight Stewart touch (and let’s not forget that Stewart’s most interesting work was made during his ‘folk’ period), too much has been made out of Allen’s gravely vocals. Allen hardly sounds like he’s been gargling with razor blades, as some would have you believe. While not a soul shouter either Allen’s vocals are quite simply dripping with emotion. He’s a pure soul singer, simple as that. This is borne out by ‘Get What’s Mine’; a funkier setting than usual for Allen’s remarkable vocals but one that works. All too often when blue-eyed soul singers suddenly decide to get funky it sounds false like they are trying too hard but with Allen it flows naturally. With brass from Don Glover and Andy Ross taking this particular song to places Allen rarely visits and Simon Johnson’s lead guitar slicing through for attention, it slowly smoulders into a raging blaze. Allen actually follows up that song with ‘Loving Arms’ and displays another side of what we call soul music. Rich Milner’s Hammond organ helps create the feeling that this song could have been pulled off a Percy Sledge album, the backing vocals from Louise Clare Marshall are heavenly and Allen creates a country/soul masterpiece. Totally leaving his folk leanings behind and embellishing the song with gospel touches is the work of a genius. The song will leave you breathless, think of other blue-eyed soul singers that have tried to capture a similar sound, Paul Carrack, Joe Cocker even, and understand that Allen is no pretender, he deserves all the acclaim that has come and will continue to come his way. There’s a very English feel about ‘Deep River’ too. Initially memories of those pink Island days fill the listener’s head, Nick Drake, John Martyn, a little Cat Stevens even. It’s like looking back to those more innocent times when anything seemed possible. The closing song, ‘Keep Moving On’, ends the album with not only a beautiful song but with lyrics that are encouraging too; “ Maybe it’s not about getting to the promised land/Maybe it’s more about trying” suggests that maybe too much emphasis is put on reaching our goal while we are losing sight of more important things on the way. The eleven original songs on ‘Deep River’ must rank as Allen’s best to date. While he covers a lot of ground musically the album, holds together extremely well, Allen displays his folk influences proudly through the first half of the album before he gently introduces other elements into his music. As with all good albums ‘Deep River’ will capture the listener and take you on a journey that will end all too soon. There was little doubt that Allen could write and perform as well as the next singer-songwriter, but on ‘Deep River’ he’s almost in a class of his own.

Track Listing:-
1 Night & Day
2 Lady of the Water
3 Falling Back
4 Hummingbird Blues
5 Fire in My Heart
6 Deep River
7 Wait For Me
8 Get What's Mine
9 Loving Arms
10 All the Money's Gone
11 Keep Moving On
12 Night & Day (Live at RAK Studios)
13 Falling Back (Live at RAK Studios)
14 Deep River (Live at RAK Studios)
15 Lady of the Water (Live at RAK Studios
16 Keep Moving On (Live at RAK Studios
17 Night & Day (Radio Edit)
18 Night & Day (Live at RAK Studios)
19 Falling Back (Live at RAK Studios)
20 Deep River (Live at RAK Studios)
21 Lady of the Water (Live at RAK Stu
22 Keep Moving On (Live at RAK Stud
23 The Making of 'Night & Day'

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Sweet Defeat (2011)
Sublime second album of acoustic Americana from acclaimed singer-songwriter, Jon Allen

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