This is a review of "Hypertension" recorded by Jon Gomm. The review was written by Lemon Head Ron in 2004.
I remember the first time I saw Jon play live - it must be going on three years ago in the Packhorse I think, quite a gangly fellow I thought, bit of a Goth maybe, would he start singing about powder paint and lipstick and have a big moan? Well that's what I thought, I was happily very wrong. And finally, Jon's decided to try to put down for the first time on CD what he does almost every night on stage. And considering how hard that must be it's a pretty good effort. This isn't Jon spending six months in some fancy dan studio, multi layering guitars on guitars; this isn't Jon sitting with top producers to decided huge percussion arrangements. This is Jon sat in his room with his guitar recording himself, live. And I think that's where maybe the struggle to record might happen, unless you see Jon in the flesh arms and legs flaying around all over guitar being pounded and slapped like you wouldn't imagine, you'll never believe this is one man sat there playing it. I mean take the song "Swallow You Whole" - now I can hear the drums there and there's definitely a bass as well. But no there isn't - Jon's technique of using his hands and fingers to tap out the rhythm whilst playing with his neck hand over the top for access to the bass strings means he can do it all himself, and I don't want to sound like that's an easy thing, it's not like I'm gonna start doing that from now on so that I can kick some drum and bass out whilst doing "More Than Words", what Jon does takes a lot of talent probably more talent than I've seen in a guitarist at least with my own eyes. So this album should be (if it were me) a massive shred fest simple twelve bars covered in blistering solo after solo, but it's not. In fact there's only one song that has what I would call a traditional guitar solo (the fantastic "Hey Child") and if you talk to Jon about this song he always has this small grin on his face as though he's slightly embarrassed at going down shred lane. These songs are filled with greatly layered melodies and chord progressions, souring choruses and often deep and personal lyrics. Jon could quite easily I imagine out solo most of us with one hand but he'd much rather push his guitar to the limits in other ways. The album consists of two covers, Bob Marley's "Wait in Vain" (an old show starter) and Radiohead's "High and Dry". But for me it's his original pieces that shine the most, songs like "Clockwork" and my favourite "Stupid Blues" show not only the range of styles Jon can play but also his ability to craft out fine pieces of music that are filled with passion and feeling. There's a very polished and professional look and sound to the album even though paid for by Jon himself this is just an appetizer demo to surely what must come next for him, the record contract. My only slight criticism of the album would be maybe the slight over use of reverb/echo on the vocals in a couple of the songs which occasionally don't fit in with the rest of the record but that aside this is pretty much spot on, but before you do go out and buy it do yourself a favour and see the man in the flesh, that way you'll really be able to appreciate what he's doing and how he's doing it. And then once you've picked your jaw off the floor, then go buy one of his albums.