Gaining Transmission – The Creative Pop of Jon Samuel

3 Jan
Jon Samuel

Jon Samuel

Jon Samuel understands the key to creating mellifluous pop music. It doesn’t involve overused synthesizers, vocal effects, or complex sound. That would be too easy. Da Vinci wrote, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” and this quotation accurately describes Samuel’s ability as a singer/songwriter. Don’t get me wrong, some bands are able to find an electronic balance and create elegant music, but stripped-down pop music requires a certain level of simplicity that is, well, sophisticated. Such artists are handed the arduous task of creating easy, inventive pop that is not pablum. Artists must be subtle in a completely unsubtle way. The greatest artists/writers (like Da Vinci and Shakespeare – who wrote “Brevity is the soul of wit”) will stand by the belief that conciseness and guilelessness is difficult to achieve but ultimately effective. Clearly, Samuel agrees, and his debut solo release First Transmission plays to that sentiment.

Some may know Samuel as one of the musicians in the 2008 Juno Award-winning band Wintersleep. Samuel acted as a composer for Wintersleep’s new album Hello Hum, which was released in June of 2012. Samuel’s solo album followed two months later. The album was recorded in the Spring/Summer of 2011 with Wintersleep bandmates Tim D’Eon and Loel Campbell. Rah Rah’s Erin Passmore provides vocals to two tracks.

“First Transmission,” the album’s title track, is an effervescent ode to SETI scientists who search for signs of intelligent life in space. First off, awesome concept for a song. I just want to get that important note out of the way before I discuss the music. Samuel’s clean and composed vocal is a delight. His voice is soothing, and, to stick with the space theme, is equatable to an astronaut experiencing a weak gravitational force; it floats, but with composure. Underneath Samuel’s airy vocal is an elementary drum beat and few chords. The song, though, does not come off as jejune despite its absence of complication. It is aided by its bubbly simplicity. Some well-placed harmony and call-and-response parts help carry the song even further.

“To Love” similarly starts with an easy riff. Samuel’s vocal follows the chords in rhythm. It’s a pleasure to listen to. Like in “First Transmission,” Samuel’s effortless vocal shines. The song also features atmospherical strings and creative harmonies that add to its cherubic effect.

The entire album is worth a listen, and I urge you to check it out.

You can learn more about Jon Samuel and buy his album at his website. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter

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