Self-titled -Jonny Estep

On his new eponymous effort, Jonny Estep comes across as a veritable one man music machine. Aside from the fact that he wrote every song, he also sings them all and plays all the instruments, including guitar, mandolin, banjo and bass. While the tendency to be a one-man band sometimes finds an artist unable to offer objectivity, Estep manages to keep the melodies both cohesive and coherent, while resisting the temptation to show off or get drawn into any excess. 

While Estep often works with a band — that being his erstwhile accompanists Gravel Road in particular — here he manages to channel his energies into a set of songs that are both introspective and engaging. He holds to the bluegrass basics on the rowdy, rousing, and appropriately titled Some Good News, while also taking a proactive perspective on the upbeat offering pointedly dubbed I Hope You Find What You’re Looking For. So too, the passion and persistence shared in The Man I’m Meant To Be and Rebuilding Ruins suggest that Estep is singularly optimistic and happy to convey his sentiment and satisfaction whenever opportunity arises.

Still, Estep allows time to share some occasional calm and caress, even in the midst of all the upbeat exhortation. Just About All I Can Do resonates with reflection and repose, while I’ve Got Your Back combines melody, memories and meditative emotion. Ray and Susie look at two lovers from a third person perspective, but the sentiment Estep expresses is just as tender and touching as those songs he sings that resonate from within.

Always expressive, Estep deserves credit for delivering all the essential elements needed as far as any style of memorable and melodic music is concerned. In that regard, the album provides the potential for a more universal appeal. One can’t help but anticipate what Estep might decide to deliver next.

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About the Author

Lee Zimmerman

Lee Zimmerman has been a writer and reviewer for the better part of the past 20 years. He writes for the following publications — No Depression, Goldmine, Country Standard TIme, Paste, Relix, Lincoln Center Spotlight, Fader, and Glide. A lifelong music obsessive and avid collector, he firmly believes that music provides the soundtrack for our lives and his reverence for the artists, performers and creative mind that go into creating their craft spurs his inspiration and motivation for every word hie writes.