Jonathan Lee is an artist from Boston, MA, who has been making music for the last fourteen years. He recently released his first solo effort entitled These Were For You, which revolves around guitar, vocals and melancholy. I’ve said it before that if you’re going to make three or more songs of nothing else than acoustic guitar and vocals you better figure out how to keep things interesting. It’s usually a guaranteed recipe for people checking out if you aren’t killing it. These Were For You contains some solid songwriting but Lee does not introduce enough variation from song to song to keep you completely engaged from beginning to end. I found myself having the most appreciation for his music by sporadically listening to a song or two rather than sitting through all six songs in one sitting
There is nothing wrong with recording yourself in this day and age. Lee does a decent job but there a couple of things that should be pointed out. If there ever were a case of using a pop filter this would be it. Throughout the entirety of the EP you hear pops from his pronunciation, which could have been avoided.
The other issue is that the frequencies from his guitar mask some essential frequency from his vocals making it hard to understand the lyrics. I won’t go into detail but I will say this could have been fixed by properly EQing the low mids. While we are on the subject of recording I thought that some of the tracks might have benefited from double tracking the vocals. It’s a proven technique that artists like Sufjan Steven and Elliot Smith (whom Lee sounds similar to) have implemented on plenty of their songs.
The EP starts with “The Banks” which revolves around basic chord progressions and melancholy vocals. That being said Lee pulls off inventive fills throughout some parts in the song. Lee has a good, warm voice - it’s a shame I was having such a hard time making out the lyrics. “Am I Special” and “Feathers” sound like Weezer unplugged while “The Darkness” is arguably the highlight.
Truth be told Lee will have need more than luck to be competitive with other artists who have a similar style like The Tallest Man on Earth and Sufjan Stevens. He has some innate talent but upping his game in terms of production and offering more than basic chords strummed on an acoustic guitar will probably have to come in to play if he hopes to be on the level of the aforementioned artists.
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