Jono - Life

Jono Life
Frontiers Music Srl
Swedes Jono are a band built around the talents of one Johan Norrby, who initially wanted to do a solo project (hence their name – the first two letters of his name and surname), but eventually they turned into a full time band. The easiest way to describe them is Sparks meets Queen. They are idiosyncratic, like the former and eclectic and bold with their arrangements, but melodic like the latter while they don’t sound like a “copy” too. Great stuff!
“Life” is their fourth album and if you had any previous exposure to their music you surely know what to expect. Extremely melodious songs, with smart arrangements and dramatic, colorful, adventurous vocals that unfold in a rather inimitable way. While the Sparks and Queen influences are more than evident, there’s something even more grandiose and symphonic about them, especially in the way their guitar and keyboard melodies manifest that seems to mimic orchestral ideas at large, which might have something to do with the fact that guitarist Stefan Helleblad is a member of the Dutch symphonic stars Within Temptation and the drummer Nicka Hellenberg has also played on “The Unforgiving” album.
“Sailors” is quirky, Sprak-i-y and bizarrely the third or fourth tune by a Scandinavian artist/band that had to do with seamen. What the hell  Why all this naval preoccupation?
“Crown” has a more majestic tone a more persistent riff and feels more contemporary, triumphantly blasting out a defiant chorus… can’t and will not complain about it.
“No Return” is similar, but really had me flashing back to Helloween’s “A Tale That Wasn’t Right”… not because it copies it (for it doesn’t), but because it pretty much manages to create a very similar mood.
“On the Other Side” has a nice dance able rhythm to it (I guess tango), but quickly escalates to a psychodramatic little gem…
“Downside” is fairly longer than anything that precedes it and goes back to being a bit more eccentric, as it also gets a bit more political and social commentating, around a nice strong bit and a pretty cool melody.
“To Be Near You” is a ballad… a slow, melancholic masterpiece that manifests itself in a nearly apocalyptic way.
“My Love” continues the forays into the band’s eccentrically exquisite soundscapes, with the same if not increasing intensity, driven by a simple, but super effective riff and Norrby’s really unique delivery.
“The Magician” is a twisted, almost “metallic” tune, by JoNo standards, with a riff that hits you hard and sweeping verses.
“Trust” releases the tension, being a pastiche of styles that mostly seems to channel 70s Queen, with almost all of that would entail.
Lastly, “The March” is a slow, measured & hauntingly beautiful piece that sums up the album, quite nicely.
Japanese copies offer a remixed version of “Crown” with a more spaced out, chilled electro approach that is OK, but doesn’t top the original in any shape or form.
“Life” is a very ambitious, artistic and unique album, by an equally artistic and special band. Give them a try and you’re very likely to be hooked and drawn into their world. Established fans, just relax and enjoy… all is good in J-land!