The Gig Cartel - Artist profiles: Jon Allen

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Jon Allen

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Described in a Sunday Times feature as “One of 2009’s indie success Stories”; nearly two years on Devon’s finest troubadour Jon Allen returns with a brand new album ‘Sweet Defeat’ under independent label Monologue Records.
His debut album “Dead Man’s Suit” was funded purely from income generated by 20,000 downloads of his song “Going Home” which featured in a Landrover Ad. The album achieved a succession of highly acclaimed reviews, no less than five BBC Radio 2 playlists, a personal request from Jools Holland to have him appear on “Later with Jools” after he heard his song “In Your Light” on the radio, and an impressive 6 figure publishing deal.
His success has not just been limited to the UK but has spread all over Europe, where he has been on tour constantly since ‘Dead Man’s Suit’s’ release. Allen sees himself very much as a live performer and has remained true to the philosophy of old fashioned grafting which seems to be paying off as there is rarely a week when he doesn’t get a request to perform. He has even found himself with the odd celebrity admirer; Holland’s biggest film star Carice Van Houten discovered his music and began twittering his praises to her many followers helping make him a household name in the territory. British actor David Morrissey name checked ‘Dead Man’s Suit’ as a favourite record in a recent Q interview and James Morrison is also a fan who has been spotted at his shows.
Allen’s second record is once again produced by Tristan Longworth supported ably by the same group of musicians who contributed to his debut. It’s an eleven-song collection that displays the maturity and cohesiveness of an artist growing in confidence. It builds on Americana/acoustic foundations, ranging from solo finger picked songs like ‘Last Orders’ to the laid back ‘Tulsa Sound’ of J.J. Cale on the bluesy ‘Lucky I guess’ to the album’s title track, an upbeat number complete with a brass section that conjures up memories of Van Morrison at his soulful best.
“The new Dylan” has been the tag line hung like a noose around the neck of many emerging male solo artists over the years, the female equivalent being “the new Joni Mitchell”. More often than not the Dylan label is misleading because artists for whom it is applied bear at best a passing connection to Bob Dylan and at worst no connection whatsoever. Therefore for fear of falling into the aforementioned trap Jon Allen is NOT the new Dylan! For a start he’s a lot taller (6.1’’) and he is British with a voice more like Rod Stewart’s than Dylan’s. Without loading him down with the heavy Dylan mantle that has crushed so many with the weight of expectation unfilled it can be said without hyperbole that his music contains a natural link with Dylan’s in its lyrical and melodic approach.
Allen and Dylan both share a set of musical influences that can clearly be traced back to pop music’s birth in the 1940’s and 50’s in the collision of blues, Jazz, soul, gospel and country. Today’s big new pop stars seem to appear like white dwarves, burning fast and hot only to cool too soon to invisibility. In contrast, Allen, almost under the radar, orbits like a satellite of greater, older artists, bathing in the glow that they still radiate. Dylan, The Beatles, Jackson Browne, Neil Young; Luminaries still shining brightly and casting long shadows. Pop music, as we know it, may be entering the evening of its years but like Jon Allen, can’t we all just bask in the twilight a little while longer?
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