Jean Synodinos – Love & Blood – Album Review
Very earthy-feel to the music Jean makes…I gotta say, atmosphere wise, this new record sure starts out anything but typically! And yes – we love that here – you know we do. As “End Of The World” starts-up, you can’t help but hear and feel the connection of Jean to the music; it’s a dark melody, but completely engaging, enveloping and massively captivating instantly…it’s actually a very unique song overall despite the artistic-style she sings with certainly inviting a lot of comparisons to Florence + The Machine her way. If I was Jean…I’d be all-like, ‘bring’em on’ – I’d love to sound like Florence myself!
She seems to have several gears and personalities on the microphone really, but certainly understands in any of those modes just how to truly bring a vibrant-feeling to her words…you can hear the passion in the approach she takes to her vocals…she sings with a sultry, intelligent and pensive-beauty. “End Of The World” winds through song like people drive on endless dirt-roads when its dark & past-midnight. Its eerie somewhat…but it’s also intensely beautiful…the melodies that pop in & out, additional elements like violin, cello, piano-keys…the very first song on this record is like an entire-record’s worth of experience – and it all comes together perfectly as Love & Blood begins its journey.
Bringing her sound, style & music to a more delicate atmosphere in “This Morning,” Jean sings tenderly overtop of a subtle guitar-melody and gentle, expanding-atmosphere. In a highlight display of emotion and lyrical-prowess, “This Morning” showcases Jean’s ability to connect to listeners through this heartfelt tune. Reflecting on life, love and the twists & turns that make it all beautiful & fantastic – “This Morning” plays on with inspiring, uplifting tones while delivering thought-provoking lyrics that detail intense imagery to fill the big-screen in your mind. With the energy of the record at a slow-pulse, “This Morning” also sets the perfect-stage for “Picture” to begin.
One of her most memorable melodies on the record so far, “Picture” plays with an intimate beauty that reveals itself slowly, but gorgeously all the while. I absolutely LOVE the instincts of Jean with her vocals – this fantastic singer truly knows the strengths in her style and approach, truly understands how to captivate with words, and how to truly, genuinely connect to listening-ears with the perfect amount of energy and emotion to her singing & songs. Her writing is incredibly focused…the words are just as much of a “Picture” as the title of the song implies; this audio-artist is able to create amazing imagery through her colourful storytelling and heartfelt delivery.
“Mercy, Mercy” reveals much more of the theatrical/entertainer aspect of Jean Synodinos…and can I just mention…that’s not normally a style/sound that finds a strong resonance within me…but I absolutely cannot help but love EVERYTHING about this song. First of all – Jean is beyond-mesmerizing as she winds through the music & weaves her vocals cleverly through “Mercy, Mercy.” Secondly…I’d cite the recording itself…this song sounds amazing…the extra personality added into this music is stunning. Reminds me a lot of our own Kristia Di Gregorio from Vancouver Island, whose folk-tunes she’d once described to me as having a gypsy-esque aspect to their sound…and if that was the case, then this tune also has that. Very cool, unique atmosphere and an absolutely full-on captivating performance that you can hear has put Jean straight into the vibe of the music…and as a result, this song with an entire flavour, style & feel that I would normally reject all-too quickly became an absolute standout & highlight on this record for me. “Mercy, Mercy” is fantastic.
“The Morning Does Not Suit Your Eyes” is another highlight for Jean…who seems to quickly be becoming the female-equivalent to a poet like Leonard Cohen as the record continues. What an amazing atmosphere once again! “The Morning Does Not Suit Your Eyes” plays along with a slow, jazzy and hazy-feel to its cadence…the lyrics are again a complete standout for me…but again, it’s not just the words themselves so much as it is the incredible combination of how they’re written, then performed by Jean. She is without a doubt, a fantastically-unique and beautiful voice in independent-music today…one with a very strong chance at truly captivating the mind, hearts and souls of millions worldwide.
You need more perfection? Another example you say? Try on the absolutely jaw-dropping “Forgive All His Sins” and see if you come out anything other than speechless. The music in this song is exquisite, extraordinary perfection…like it was recorded as the sun was first beginning to rise…the drums are fantastic & far-away in the mix…spread-out wide as the cello echoes with a melancholy-melody over-top. Jean sings sweetly…reminds me very much of songs from the first albums of Zero 7…even a little of the more-artistic endeavours of my own beloved R.E.M. – especially when they received the assistance of the brilliantly-artistic sounds & style of Patti Smith. Without a doubt, this was one of my favourite songs on Love & Blood – “Forgive All His Sins” has everything I’m looking for in atmosphere, music, lyrics, production, performance…the list could go on & on – this song checks all the boxes in the awesome-column for me.
While I understand why she’d go after the melody in “Bark Right At The Moon,” I’d be able to say with some certainty this was the more difficult of the new-song line-up for myself personally. This would be much closer to the theatrical-style that has a harder time reaching me…its old-timey swing & feel sound beautiful, well-written and as well-performed as the rest from Jean on this album…just not really my thing on a personal level. But I’ll say this in support of my argument; none of the other songs on this record really remind me of anyone but Jean herself, who I haven’t even had the remote chance to forget yet, nor would I want to. With “Bark Right At The Moon,” I felt like the melody wasn’t quite as unique as the rest were…not easy or lazy by any stretch…but less-personal somehow. Where I have continually felt that strong connection to the material from Jean over the course of this record, I felt like this song had less of that…still delivered with grace that warrants multiple-listens…but the creativity and uniqueness she’s discovered and performed on each of the other tunes on Love & Blood I think reveal the true-beauty in her music just that much more. That’s all I’m saying!
And as the album begins to close with “Real Renegade” part of me suspects she might have felt the same way. Returning to her more signature-style of creative & innovative melody from her own divine imagination – Jean puts in a magnificent performance on this final song. Excellent trumpets, keyboards and gentle drums supply the quaint setting for Jean to bring about one of her sweetest performances on the record at its end. She is truly a gifted singer/song-writer who has managed to continually impress me on this album…and while I might still have a few favourites that would compete for the top-spot honours overall – I’d be hard-pressed to say I feel like there’s a song on this record that highlights the pure beauty & emotion of which she sings with. Everything about this song makes for a fantastic listening experience…the emotion in the music itself is nearly just as strong as the vocals – NEARLY. Don’t get me wrong…in this final song, Jean remains the star of the show and puts in her most-confident and brilliant-sounding performance right here at the end of Love & Blood.
I know it sounds strange after two-plus pages…but I’m really at a loss for what I could possibly say next – Jean Synodinos is an absolutely stunning & captivating performer, singer & song-writer and that’s really all that CAN be said! This album is a fantastic effort, with beauty lining its every moment and performances that will make a lasting impact in your memory through songs that deliver heart, authenticity and tremendous talent in the most stunning & beautiful ways possible.
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