Jason Penna – Singles Review
Multi-faceted Rock music all the way from across the ocean, we’ve got Brisbane, Australia’s very own Jason Penna in review to start up our day here in Canada. Which…I think makes it nighttime over there then? I can never remember how all that works…suppose I could Google it, but I’m here to talk music, not time-zones. BUT…as many of you regular readers know full-well, any time tunes from Australia show up in my inbox and on my playlists, they’ve got my complete attention; I actually just went on a download rampage to make sure I’m up to-date on my Eskimo Joe, Something For Kate (new album announced!!) & Paul Dempsey catalogs for example…and as I’ve pointed out through reviews on bands & artists like Smoking Martha or Michael Burrows recently I’m sure, Australia is a country that, when it comes to music, has continually delivered when it comes to making stuff I personally wanna hear. My list of what I love from there, could theoretically keep us here until next week…but we’ll get to that another time.
So no pressure Jason, I’m just sayin’ – Australia’s got one of the most reliable reputations of quality & kickassness to maintain, that’s all, no pressure, no pressure.
I somehow doubt Penna feels too much pressure at all – he writes a great tune and executes strongly – I’ve listened to a set of four singles he’s got out there right now, and he’s definitely got a voice, perspective, and solid work-ethic. From the steady stream of singles being released online on his pages right now, it’s plenty clear that the time is right now for Jason Penna & he’s ready to make moves with his music & career in 2019. Can’t say I blame him at all – you can hear he’s got the passion, dedication, and desire it takes to succeed – and I’m sure I’ll say this about a hundred times below, but MAN can this dude play a guitar as well. Great singer for sure too, but his music proves he’s a man of many strengths.
With his single “Burn This Crossroad Down,” I ended up quickly immersed in the first experience with Jason’s music and digging the energy I hear in this dude’s brand of Rock for sure. Lots of intensity in his performance, gripping vocals, solid hooks – the kind of single you hear and instantly understand what the growing buzz behind Penna’s music is all about. It’s written really well…that’s the meat & potatoes of this scenario here – after that, it’s up to the main star of the show to deliver, which he does. If I had any issues…maybe they’re in the mix/levels we’ve got Jason at in front of the music – which to be quite honest, you don’t wanna miss out on, and that’s ultimately all I’m advocating for. Perfect example of what I mean is…by dialing him back a bit in the chorus volume-wise, his big notes are gonna still jump out no problemo – Jason holds his own just fine when it comes to projection & power in his voice – but the incredible guitar-work and stand-out hooks that can be found in the music might get more credit in the ears listening. And it should! Though maybe those guitars could use a bump up in the volume to help counterbalance this argument I’m making here as well – but you get the idea, more volume in the music ain’t gonna take away from what he brings to the microphone, because you’ll always be able to hear this dude bust through with the big notes when the time calls for him to bring’em out. Listen to the layers happening when it comes to the instrumentation and you’ll discover not only just severe depth & skill in the writing, but savage execution and some seriously awesome parts in the music that, hopefully, get the recognition they deserve. When I hear a tune like “Burn This Crossroad Down” mix-wise, I hear an artist that wants to be known as a singer first & foremost – and there ain’t nothing wrong with that, like I said, he holds his own & handles his business for sure – all I’m saying is that the music on this single also presents an array of strengths can’t be ignored. All this being said, I’m really not dogging the mix on “Burn This Crossroad Down” as it stands now – let’s get that straight; it’s clear and you can get to the heart of the hooks & the passion Penna puts into this song without question – I’m just making suggestions for the future that he may/may-not feel apply. Where he’s sittin’ in the mix of the verse is spot-on…I think the chorus could use an assist in helping the music stand out as much as he does vocally volume-wise perhaps (mainly the guitar riffs, cause they’re KILLER), but overall, it’s a great gateway into the music Jason creates & he makes a memorable impact with the punch & energy he puts into this cut.
Dude gets it though, there’s no doubt about Jason’s ability to write, perform, and create hooks that work – he proved that to me through the following tune “Do You Wanna Grow.” He can seriously light-up a fret-board on a guitar at a moment’s notice too…like I said, lots of great aspects to both what you’ll hear in the music and on the microphone when it comes to Penna’s music. Examining the past & present of life & love, questioning his decisions perhaps at times, but not his motivations when it comes to the lyrics of “Do You Wanna Grow.” It’s part tribute, it’s part apology, and it’s another solid cut in Jason’s catalog of tunes that speaks a lot on behalf of what the mind is like in the man behind the music. You can hear the pain of the past come back to haunt him, but also a lot of the beauty in the way he now reflects on the experience he’s singing to us through the sincere words he’s penned to this tune – and as a result, you get a song that’s both honest AND gives you quality hooks to dig into. In a world filled with tunes where you get one or the other typically in sounds as flashy as Penna’s style of music is, you get both with this guy…the honesty and the quality…and that matters when it comes to how we take these songs in as listeners. Songs like “Do You Wanna Grow” dive deep into material that truly matters to Jason – and it’s something we can hear in his performance on this track. Key harmonies in the chorus, subtle but effective, and they strengthen the melody brilliantly – scorching hot guitars on the way into this single as well (& of course, throughout the song to follow, dude rocks an axe, no doubt) – Penna puts great attention to detail into the structure and songwriting and it all pays off in the results.
When it comes to “Where Are The Angels Tonight,” I feel like the sentiment is definitely something the world could use a whole lot more of right now. Jason examines the state of the world and what we’re leaving for future generations, and he’s put some solid words into this tune. Of the three singles I’ve checked out so far, probably some of my favorite words here by far, even if I think he might have put a couple too many in here for the metering & melody to really be as effective as the other tunes by comparison. Let me be clear though – the chorus hook itself…likely has the most accessible hook of the bunch, with potentially the most important message Penna’s looking to communicate…or most urgent; vocally, you can hear this is a bit of a tougher one to tap into the maximum tone of the sweetness required, but it’s more than close enough to keep you satisfied & fully engaged. I do like that he’s displaying a range here…the lower alt-rock tone of his voice suits the verse extremely well – and for the majority of the chorus, he’s right where he needs to be – I ain’t gonna lie to ya, it’d be a tough song to sing and he does an admirable job of taking it on. Great combination of sounds between the guitars and piano interacting, great shift into the chorus…like I said from the get-go, the ideas are certainly here; if I was to assess this tune as a whole, “Where Are The Angels Tonight” still shows there’s a bit of room for this artist to evolve in his performances, which is always a good thing in my books, but it also shows just how strong his writing is too. You hear the quality of the hooks & ideas that flow through a tune like this and you know that an expressive communicator like Jason is going to be just fine in the long run, 100%. And in his defense, according to the page the song is posted on & the description about it, you’ll read that “Where Are The Angels Tonight” was written two-weeks prior…no doubt this is already a stronger tune in his set at this point & I’d imagine that more experience with the song will yield its full potential.
Fresh as it gets, “Imagining Things Now” is less than a week old still – and for the record, it’s not even his latest track as of the writing of this article – he just dropped another online yesterday called “You Will Feel Loved” as well. I mentioned this guy is making moves in 2019 right? It’s definitely obvious through the sheer output of music on his pages alone that he’s right in the moment and inspired right now – I always dig meeting an artist in that phase of their career & working hard to get their songs out there. “Imagining Things Now” does a great job of shifting the sound into a more serene & chill vibe, while still shifting the power to get a more vibrant energy into the chorus; music-wise, probably my favorite of the bunch by far quite honestly. Verse-wise, I’m right there with him as well, I think it’s a real highlight performance from him in that part of “Imagining Things Now” – as for the chorus…I’m a bit more undecided. In terms of my own personal taste, I dig it enough and I’m hanging right on as he goes for the extremely big notes in the chorus, hoping he’ll stay in-tune for the high-demands the writing makes on him. I’ll say this…at the end of the day, he IS on-point and on-target with the melody he’s seeking to create…but as to whether or not it’ll come out a bit grating to some listeners, that’s a possibility too. Jason’s pushing himself to the max of his threshold on the chorus of “Imagining Things Now” – and to be honest, I think he does a great job with the energy & power the idea was calling for; let’s not forget, there’s about a million ways a song could be sung…and there’s a chance that he’ll take a different approach to the chorus to get the best out of the potential sweetness it can bring out of him over time. Definitely another example of where, having those gigantic notes of his voice nestled a bit more into the mix might allow the music to stand out a bit more without affecting the impact Jason’s singing makes – because that’s a huge part of the allure when it comes to the appeal of “Imagining Things Now.” When you get those few instrumental breaks, they really stand-out in all the right ways, especially when it comes to this tune here. Like I said at the very beginning – definitely a solid singer, but make no mistake, he makes real magic happen on the guitars too – and he certainly puts that on display with beautiful depth to the ideas & transitions through the emotions put into “Imagining Things Now.” Tough tune when it comes to the lyrics…really well-written, I’m just saying they’re pretty damn heartbreaking is all…Jason takes on a palette of serious emotions and thought-provoking scenarios on “Imagining Things Now” – but it’s the kind of sincerity & authenticity that makes his writing excellent. He’s objective, he’s reflective, he’s real about his feelings – and that’s bound to connect with listeners.
Find out more about Jason Penna at his official homepage at: https://jasonpenna.com