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April 7, 2004

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I have long been of the opinion that anything put out by Jonah Matranga is worth listening to. From Far, to New End Original, to onelinedrawing, and with the recent addition of Gratitude, his track record is damn near flawless. He has yet to generate a record that I dislike. His latest solo release, The Volunteers, is certainly no exception.

I have never been able to trace precisely what is it that I like so much about the man. Maybe it’s his stumbling, almost too revealing voice. It could possibly be that funny arrangement of drum loops and airy but accessible guitar riffs. Perhaps it’s his knack for poignancy in songwriting. Whatever the case may be, The Volunteers plays to all of those strengths in the most naked and exposed songwriting that I think Jonah has yet to offer the world.

The music here is delicate and flowing. Often you’ll hear nothing save for Jonah’s soft, vulnerable voice over an eerie, piercing guitar arpeggio. That, however, isn’t to say that the record can’t break it down to pure and simple rock, either, as is evidenced in “We Had a Deal” (the song that the onelinedrawing camp seems to be pushing as their single). This song is as stripped down and evocative as any song you’ll find on the record, but with the added intensity that’s usually only perceptible in Jonah’s live show. Often, it’s difficult to tell where one song ends and another begins, as one effect blends into another and another and another until an entirely new prevailing melody has replaced the previous song.

I’ve been using a lot of big, descriptive adjectives. I guess that’s kind of self-indulgent. Allow me to summarize things more clearly: Jonah Matranga has once again exceeded the boundaries of music and produced something that can only be described as art. I feel very strongly that this is his best work to date, and that’s saying an awful lot.

Bottom line? I love Jonah Matranga. I love onelinedrawing. I love this record. Buy it or else.


Jamison Kane