Jon Allen - Dead Man's Suit (Monologue Records)

Phillip Clark | Saturday, 13 June 2009

Jon Allen - Dead Man's Suit (Monologue Records)

If you're a lesser-known artist, promotion before your debut album release is essential. Having a track picked for a national TV advert is a fantastic way of doing so.

It might be luck that Jon Allen's track 'Going Home' appeared on the Land Rover advert, but take a listen to the album and you'll find that the high-level of music making is consistent throughout, if not even better. Dead Man Suit is already seeing a growing momentum and Allen's reputation is increasing with it.

This 12-track album consists of racy popfolk and blues with chiselled, grainy vocals and a few self-pitying lyrics, the quality of which makes James Blunt end up sounding like his own surname. Vocally, Allen can be compared to a whole host of singers from the ruggedness of a young Rod Stewart to more recent singer-songwriters such as James Morrison.

The ability to easily compare his voice and music to others could well be a disadvantage as mainstream audiences may find him difficult to distinguish from any of the other similar singer/songwriter guitarists already in the public domain.

The smooth-sounding 'Happy Now' and title track 'Dead Man's Suit' have a racy blues-like style similar to that of rediscovered '60s artist Rodriguez and other folk-rock artists from that era. 'In Your Light' is a beautifully melancholic track, delicately and thought-provokingly slow, with lyrics that you'll soon begin to sing along with.

In contrast, 'Young Man Blues' is a faster-paced, edgier and brassier sounding song, a bit higher on the decimal scale, much more rock n roll and just as good as his softer songs. 'Down By The River', 'Sleeping Soul' and 'Friends' are much more toned-down affairs, containing simple acoustic guitar, meaningful lyrics and lighter vocals giving off a Dylan-esque aura. While these tracks are a little bit anti-climatic compared to the others, as standalones they work well.

Dead Man's Suit is a surprisingly fulfilling and easy-listening experience. It's a refreshing change to see a new artist emerge with the talent to carve out a long career in the industry. Jon Allen's talent is clear - success definitely lies ahead for this artist.

Rating: 4.5/5