I think the story of Jon Wolter bears repeating because it reflects in his songs. Years ago Wolter was a Deadhead who ended up graduating from a recording arts school back in 1985. He worked as an intern for the Chicago Recording Company but after getting offered lackluster pay he decided to head back home to Sparta, IL. He worked in a factory, got married and raised his son.
His son left for college in 2012 and not knowing what to do with his time Wolter started recording music. On June 15th, 2014 (Father’s Day) Wolter was stricken with unilateral sudden deafness in his right ear. This incident for some people may have caused them to not only give up on music but also lead them to a constant state of disgruntled indignation. For Wolter it lit a fire and led him to record and release his six-song EP entitled Nowhere. His story affected the way I listened to the album and actually enhanced the experience for me.
Wolter’s songs are a mix between rock and pop with a number of slight variations. It took me a little while to warm up to his style but I eventually came around. There aren’t very many catchy hooks but he makes up with it with some original charm and delivery.
Wolter starts out with the highlight entitled “Nowhere.” You don’t need to read between the lines to figure out he is talking about Sparta, IL. The song might be the most infectious out of the batch. His lyrics are original and quite inventive. He sings “Cornfields, fence rows, barns and silos move over for the tractor on the rock road bald eagle flying up the Mary's River.” The song also happens to contain a pretty mean guitar solo.
“Brand New Day” is a solid song and his lyrics reflect his optimistic attitude. He sings, “cause it's a brand new day look at life a different way.” The first real deviation came from “Blue Sky.” It reminded me of an act you would see in Vegas at two o'clock in the morning. Perhaps Wolter can fill the void that Robert Goulet left behind.
Another worthy number was “Barely Making It,” which worked because of the juxtaposition between the loose, fun, almost hopeful vibe and the lyrics. He sings, “I'm barely making it Don't feel bad for me I'm my own worst enemy It's the way I live my life.”
Nowhere is far from perfect but is an endearing release that has its own unique appeal. Wolter’s struggles, experiences and disposition come out on these songs. That in itself is something that is all too rare these days in music.
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