By Mike O’Cull
Emerging roots music master Jonathon Long exhibits high-level guitar, vocal, and songwriting skills on his new record Parables of a Southern Man. Set to meet the world July 2nd, 2021 on Wild Heart Records, produced by Samantha Fish. The set is the work of a triple-threat artist with an abundance of talent and an original take on American music that sounds like nothing else out there. Long is a complete musician who is evolving both the genre and his own style in real time and he makes for one heck of a listen. He rises above the box of playing in a blues/rock band and paints the air around him with colors and images that come straight at you and resonate deeply.
Parables of a Southern Man is Long’s third recorded effort and more than lives up to that old saying about third times being the charm. The album lays down the floorboards for what is sure to be a long, productive career and is impossible to be considered anything less than a breakthrough release.
The Baton Rouge-born Long is a former child prodigy who started playing guitar at age six and was onstage at the area venue Swamp Mama’s with local heroes like Kenny Neal, Rudy Richard and Lil Ray Neal. When he was just 14, his folks gave him permission to go out on the road with Louisiana blues icon Henry Turner playing bass and learning how to rock a crowd on the juke joint circuit. In 2011 at the age of 22, Long won the “King of the Blues” award for best unsigned blues guitar player in America and, in 2012, he released his first self-titled album, which was a hot-handed showcase of his blues guitar talents. His second album Trying to Get There showed Long growing as a songwriter and singer, a transition he’s completed on the new album. He was known as Jonathon “Boogie” Long back then but has since dropped the nickname in favor of his true personal identity.
From the first notes of Parables of a Southern Man’s opener “Madison Square Garden,” it’s obvious that Long is far from the typical blues-influenced guitar slinger. His playing is epic, as expected, but his songwriting and singing are beyond anything normally found in this genre and speak right to the listener’s soul. The song articulates Long’s dream of a packed MSG singing along to his songs in an honest, eloquent way that will slay anyone who has ever chased their own big dreams. It’s a huge statement of intention and makes a perfect first song.
“The Ride” is a harder rock tale of existential terror that can only be dealt with by packing up the truck and seeking a new life in a place that hasn’t yet been found. The track features some of Long’s finest vocal and guitar performances on the record and shows the world that he’s much more than just another blues guy. It’s the kind of expansive cut that should open many doors for the young artist. Every note he plays points toward the future. “My Kind of Woman” blends classic boogie tactics with Long’s unique aesthetic, a side of classic R&B, and a tasty guitar break that hints at shred-level chops lurking beneath all of these well-written tunes.
“All I Need” is a gentle southern rocker with a snapping clean-toned intro riff and Long’s smooth, nuanced vocal take. Once again, you can hear the genres crossing in Long but the rock, jazz, and gospel ingredients here overlap seamlessly and come out as Long’s own singularity. The whole album is like this and is the sort of effort that continues to reveal itself with each successive listening session. Drop the needle anywhere and you’ll be rewarded with a new flavor of greatness. Other songs of interest on Parables of a Southern Man include “Savior’s Face,” “Cheap Romance,” and “Jenny.”
Jonathon Long is creating the next wave of the music we love in a fresh, genuine way that will grab you by the scruff and pull you inside. Wise fans will allow the process and enjoy the ride.
Watch Jonathon Long (thanks to 1AnitrasDance for the video)
Pre-order/save link for Parables of a Southern Man