The second full-length release from LA-based Jon DeRosa. Having studied under La Monte Young no less and inspired by the positive sunshine vibes of West Coast pop, Black Halo is a collection of shimmering numbers underpinned by DeRosa's classically crooning baritone vocals. Out on CD from Rocket Girl.
8/10 Robin Staff review, 20 May 2015
The most variable and happily spontaneous of artists Jon DeRosa has opted once more to halt his tendencies towards ambient and country (I know, right?) in favour of his more direct and plaintive singer-songwriter style. When we last heard him in this particular mode, his baritone brooded and resigned itself; not much has changed on ‘Black Halo’, where the sincere schmaltz remains, echoing Stephin Merritt after a bad day, as well as the ornate arrangements of recent Cherry Ghost.
DeRosa’s voice is just gorgeous. It’s slow and immovable but it shifts through melodies seamlessly, taking the bitter lyrics of “The Sun is Crying” and coupling them with slow, lovely refrains. On “When Daddy Took The Treehouse Down”, his voice gently dances around scattershot muted guitar, summertime trumpet and swift violin, as if dodging them with zero effort whatsoever. It sounds a bit Belle & Sebastian, but DeRosa’s sardonic voice deftly destroys all chance of a twee pop tune.
This twinkly, out of fashion record has no right being this good, twinkling with tropes -- but at its centre, DeRaso sells it marvellously. “Lonely Sleep” is a perfect example of what he’s feeling for this particular project: it’s ornate and lush, and its song structure is indie pop meets old-time crooner. But DeRaso’s voice is so withering that it sounds like he’s actually plotting to murder the cliche.
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