Jonni Slater - 'Hold On'

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we delve into the music of Jonni Slater and his eclectic four track debut record. Hailing from the UK, Slater describes himself as an ‘alternative-rock-tronic musician and vocalist,’ one that prides himself in strong, meaningful lyricism. His songs are half personal, half story, and songs off his new EP, ‘Hold On,’ take inspiration from classics such as the Odysseus. (He also has some animated music videos that tie directly into this.) In any case, let’s dig straight into his new tunes. (The album releases officially on September 4.)

Slater’s self-description is actually pretty apt. It’s alternative rock with electronic flair and some pop sensibility. The title track is a relatively short song, clocking in at less than three minutes. The song is accessible, catchy, and lighthearted. This accessibility remains prominent throughout the collection, carrying over into the second track, ‘In The Fire.’ That song is a bit darker with atmospheric blending and ambiance.

The production quality of ‘Hold On’ is impressive for a debut record. Everything is elegantly and properly mixed and nothing feels out of place. The timbre and mix of the instrumentation is perfect and Slater’s vocals reign over the soundscape with admirable command. “I was born in the fire,” he croons over reverb-soaked instrumentation on ‘In The Fire.’ Musically and lyrically, the song is dramatically more complex than the title tune.

‘Arrows’ feels like an extension of ‘In The Fire,’ one that is increasingly eerie and atmospheric. Ghostly sound effects swirl around Slater’s lead vocals as a soft string-like section glides through in waves. The droning percussion is awesome, and the haunting recording is the strongest musical outing of the four. It’s intelligently written and performed, perhaps marking the defiant high point of ‘Hold On.’

‘Lights,’ the final track on ‘Hold On,’ was originally released as a single. Goodness, it’s a strong one. It’s a killer track, an infectious romp backed by thundering percussion and cascading piano. The song feels cinematic in nature, beautifully ending a rather excellent collection of tunes. It’s equally as superb as ‘Arrows,’ but feels like a flipped switch in comparison. Thus, the two songs exhibit some compelling range, something that marks Slater’s potential.

In fact, the best word to describe Slater is ‘potential.’ This is a remarkably good set of tunes. Slater sets himself apart from the pack with sharp production, vocals, and lyricism. Though it’s only about thirteen minutes long, ‘Hold On’ proves that he can bring it. More so, it proves that he can narrow his work down. I’m so often harping on indie acts that put far too much on their record and the work suffers as a result. That isn’t the case with Slater. He just needs to keep growing; he’s got too much potential to flatline and if he does, it’s nobody’s fault but his own. Right now, though, he’s doing pretty damn well. Check out Slater on the Jukebox Podcast on the 25th!

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