May 22, 2024

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CD review: Orphan Jon and The Abandoned – Over The Pain 2022: Video, CD cover

Born in Bakersfield, California, singer Orphan Jon (Jon English) comes from an unstructured family besides suffering abuse and mistreatment in his childhood. Fortunately, Orphan has found its way through music and, since 2015, he leads his own band, Orphan Jon And The Abandoned, who has gradually gain popularity thanks to the energy the musicians share with audiences when they are on stage, which makes them be appreciated not only by lifelong blues fans but also by the new generations.

For this last recording they have gathered twelve songs mostly coming from Jon English and guitar player Alaistar Greene. Musically speaking the compositions are a good summary of roots, blues, americana and a little bit of garage displayed with the same energy as if they were contemporary rock.

Orphan (Jon English) is on vocals, while Ray Sadolsky plays bass and Jason Blakely is on drums. The album has been produced by Alastair Greene who also plays guitar in all songs and, as guests, mention Mike Malone on piano and vocals, Michael Leasure on drums and vocals and Rebecca Aguilar on vocals.

Orphan Jon (English) was nominated for a Blues Blast award for his debut disc in 2018 and now returns with his second studio album. Some significant changes in personnel have seen Jon’s former writing partner Bruce Krupnik depart the band (though he was involved in the writing of six tunes here); his replacement is another former Blues Blast award nominee, Alastair Greene, whose strong guitar work is a major feature of the album (which he also produced); who knows, perhaps the pair bonded at the Blues Blast Awards ceremony in 2018?

Other musicians are the rhythm section of Ray Sadolsky on bass and Jason Blakely on drums; Michael Leasure replaces Jason on one cut and adds B/V’s on another, Mike Malone adds piano to two tracks and B/V’s to one, Rebecca Aguilar guests on vocals on two tracks. The band is also referred to by its acronym – OJATA. The writing credits see Jon having a hand in all bar the sole cover, aided mainly by Bruce and Alastair.

The opening track takes no prisoners as Alastair lays down a heavy, rocking riff as Jon describes himself becoming a “hot mess” when confronted by the girl in the “Tight Dress”. The heavy rock tones continue on “She”, another song about a femme fatale, complete with a frenetic solo from Alastair but the pace drops for the title track. “Over The Pain” is a strong cut, Alastair doing his best Peter Green impression at the beginning and end of the song, over which we get to appreciate Jon’s vocal range as he emotes about managing to get “Over The Pain”; the heavier central solo contrasting with the ballad feel of the track. On “Got No Name” Alastair breaks out his slide as Jon sings of tough life on the streets before drummer Ray opens “Broken Angel” with some New Orleans style drum beats, Jon singing about a chance encounter in a bar. The sole cover marks the half way point in the album: “Going Down To Mobile” is from Savoy Brown’s 1972 release Hell Bound Train, Alastair again using slide to good effect on a version that he starts in semi-acoustic mode but really rips it up after the first verse.

“Living My Life” is more of a shuffle with relaxed guitar work that again allows us to hear Jon’s range while on “Somewhere Salvation” Alastair doubles up on lead and slide guitars to provide an attractive piece of classic rock. “Redheaded Woman Blues” is an acoustic tune with Alastair’s bottleneck and guest drummer Michael Leasure, but we are quickly back to a full band sound on “Everyone Knows”, the longest cut on the album, allowing Alastair to build an atmospheric backing for Jon to build his vocals about his troubled childhood before heavy rock and slide riffs come in. “Memories Of Me And You” is a slower paced rocker with a torrid guitar solo mid tune and we close with “There’s No Need” which starts slowly with hints of gospel, a feeling that is increased by the revival tent spirit of the later part of the tune as Jon plays the preacher over vibrant organ work from Mike Malone and some freaky guitar tones from Alastair.

That’s a tough one to decide on. But if I were to narrow it down? I would have to say that I’m extremely proud of what we accomplished in the studio with only a few weeks to prepare. Due to unforeseen circumstances I had to switch gears and use my dear friend; and the Producer of the album, Alastair Greene to not only play the guitar on, but to write all new material with me. All, except for one track that’s a Savoy Brown cover was either rewritten or newly written by Alastair and me. Because of the pandemic and everything being shut down like it was in California and basically everywhere, it was becoming very difficult to get into the studio to start the project of recording my second studio album.

Once the pandemic subsided, and after rescheduling the recording sessions again, a situation arose that demanded I either decide to throw my hands up and put the project on hold once more or regroup and make it happen. I chose the latter. And because I had serious professionals in Alastair and my Bassist Ray Sadolsky and Drummer Jason Blakely we were able to write, rehearse and record the album within six weeks. Of course, having a tremendously gifted Engineer in Brian Boozer at AUM Studio Productions made the process that much easier on us too. I will add, what I love most about the album is everyone involved in it, made it happen. The album is a personal, but relatable story of overcoming whatever negativity life deals you. It’s a conceptual album about loss, suffering, moving forward, deciding to be over the pain, and all in spite of.

As for today, I’m in the studio here in Wichita, Kansas; where I now live, recording tracks for future single releases. The need to release a full album to garner interest in your music is no longer as necessary as it was a few years ago. With the social media platforms, multiple internet stations, the ability to download a single track off music app stores and music services, I’ve found it’s less costly and time consuming.

My band The Abandoned has always had differing players since the beginning; mostly due to scheduling availability, so the need to have a permanent line up hasn’t been an issue. With that in mind, I had been touring for a few years with two top shelf Bakersfield, Ca. musicians Ray Sadolsky on Bass and Jason Blakely on Drums; the guitarists would vary depending on availability, but Ray and Jason were my two dependable constants.

With that in mind, it made total sense to have them with me in the studio since they not only knew the material well but are great cats to be around. Plus, with them having several years of experience in the studio already, it was a logical and obvious choice to make. I feel their immense talent is on full display on the album. I had asked my long-time friend Alastair Greene in the winter of 2019 to be my Producer on the album, and as I earlier explained due to unforeseen circumstances that occured at the time, I asked him to come on board as the guitarist. The end results speak for themselves, – an interview with me said Orphan Jon.

Fans of the band will be pleased to hear a new effort from Jon and his bandmates.

New CD – 2022 – Buy from here

Orphan Jon And The Abandoned – Over The Pain | Album Review – Blues Blast Magazine

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