Jonas Martin’s debut solo album, Chokecherry Jam, was recorded at Nest Recording Studios in Dripping Springs, TX and Electrophunck Recording in Dallas. Chokecherry Jam boasts a lineup of DFW rock-royalty, including Jason Burt (guitar, vocals, production), Nick Jay (bass, organ, piano, production), Wade Cofer (bass, drums, guitars, vocals), Nate Wedan (drums, percussion), and Jon Knudson (organ, violin, saxophone). The album was mastered by six-time Grammy award winner Brian Lucey, who has mastered albums for Beck, The Black Keys, Dr. John, Arctic Monkeys, Dr. Dog, Ray LaMontagne and many others.
I’ll say it right up front, if you don’t like this album, you just don’t like good music. This isn’t the throwaway rubbish you hear on the radio, this is great rock music and great songwriting, written by a talented musician with a sharp wit for words. I have heard and enjoyed Martin’s band, Goodnight Ned, but his solo album, with all due respect, just blows that project out of the water.
The sound this time around is crunchier and the mood is more biting and experimental; littered with jagged guitars, sprawling pianos, tempo shifts from upbeat verses to somber chorus and squealing guitar, violin and saxophone interludes. Amping up the energy, Martin has delivered a ballsy, brash, in your face collection of tunes encompassing different genres and tempos, while taking chances that pay off handsomely.
As you would expect, from a genius mind, the songs on Chokecherry Jam are more complex than your average pop tune and not particularly radio friendly. That being said, they are ear-candy to a thinking mind and just present one great song after another. “You’re So Blues”, “Autumn Love”, “Wake Up”, “Fishy Man”, “No Wonder”, and “Where Did It Go”, blend sounds from the past with their own modern twists…or is the other way around? Either way, Jonas Martin walks the musical tightrope between psychedelic strains and baroque rock, with everything else stuffed in-between in varying quantities.
I can’t think of anyone else creating music of this quality and verve on the scene right now. There is enough energy, power and even noise in this album unlike any other artists are even willing to attempt. I imagine a shoutout should go to the production and mastering, in achieving an electrifying balance in the sound here.
The artistry of the group of musicians, led by Jonas Martin, is also extremely impressive and entertaining throughout the album; resulting in a record that pushes the envelope but is never pretentious and seems rather devoid of ego. Musically, Martin comes across as someone who deeply understands his influences, yet is able to fuse them into a sound which is ultimately self-expressive.
Lyrically he is even more awe-inspiring, as he explores themes that include insomnia, love, philosophical turmoil or erectile dysfunction. He is often torn between the opposite impulses of temperance and extravagance as he questions everything and seeks conclusions to life’s psychological complexities.
Full of eclectic melody, groove and grittiness, Chokecherry Jam is not perfect in every way – art never is – but it is a work of pure genius and unlike anything you’ll come across. And it gets better with every listen!
MORE ABOUT JONAS MARTIN:
Jonas Martin is a Dallas-based songwriter and performer who always serves his music with a side of sarcasm. Since his father was a radio disc jockey, for most of Martin’s childhood (working at 98.7 KLUV in Dallas, among others), Martin grew up listening to an archive of classic musical icons. He played a variety of instruments throughout his younger years but found that he had a passion for piano and other keyboard instruments in his early twenties. Martin has shared the stage with acts like Cake, Deltron 3030, OK GO, Shovels & Rope, Steve Earle, Polyphonic Spree and many others.