May 21, 2004

Onelinedrawing "The Volunteers"

Oh, Jonah, what are we gonna do with you?

I know you're an ambitious guy, but I'm not sure about what you're up to now. I want to let you know that The Volunteers is excellent. Back when you were releasing all of those little EP's, I had this feeling that you were capable of putting together a cohesive album of your own, and this is that album I knew you could come up with. It's great--it's emotional yet it's not, ya know?

You've done a good job of distancing yourself from the novelty of a guy and a guitar thing that got started a few years ago with Dashboard, and I've gotta hand it to you, The Volunteers doesn't feel like a solo acoustic type of record that you'd naturally think of with the 'singer/songwriter' tag, either. I mean, "Over It" is a great rock tune, and I wonder what it would sound with a band like New End Original taking it on. True, you do the acoustic guitar ballad style a couple of times, but that's okay, I like "As Much To Myself As To You."

But, man, I gotta come out and say it--I'm not feeling you here. I mean I'm not feeling any emotions. I know you've always put your heart and soul into your work, but it's just not coming through on The Volunteers. Is it because the album sounds too clean, too polished? Is it because I feel like I'm listening to a record that's a bit too calculated, that sounds emotional in just the right way, that's supposed to feel like an emo record should sound like in 2004? For example, "Stay" sounds too much like a song from The OC for my taste. The question is, though--is it because the song is meant to have that kind of connection, or is it that you're trying too hard to sound modern?

Don't get me started on "Living Small," because I read that Punk Planet interview, where you were talking about your brand new band--because that really makes me wonder about your intentions all along. I wish you well with that project, as I refuse to begrudge any artist their success and their dreams, but it does cast a major pall over this song, and I guess it's the knowledge of your future that taints the present. The Volunteers is a great record for you, a big step forward; it sounds like a million bucks.

Sadly, it also sounds exactly like a million bucks, and that's too bad. You gain the world, yet you lose your soul, and is it worth it in the end? Only you can determine that, and I wish you well on your new journey in life, and I hope you keep writing good music.

As long as you keep writing heartfelt and sincere music, I'll be listening.

Joseph Kyle

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