Reigning from some of the most patriotic regions of the country, California, Texas, and now New Jersey, singer-songwriter Jonathan Tea’s debut sound clearly hones in on these key country rock elements. His first album Coming Home offers listeners a peak into his mind, sometimes scattered and overwhelming, but purposeful and meaningful as well. His shifts from rugged rock and roll to anthemic country provide material for a wider demographic, but you have to have certain taste for a genre like Tea’s. Yet as this is just the beginning of his discography, his potential to level out his skills and musical elements can leave him with a really bright future.
My thirst for melodic hooks is always my first catch when reviewing music, and Coming Home certainly has its moments. Though a theme of the more common country rock riffs and melodies surface the album, a sense of originality is focused on catchy tracks like “Here Me” or the groovy, deep verses of “Love You to Death”. Even the sentimental instrumentals of “Desperate Times” are attributes to the album that I can listen to on replay. However, once hearing these key features I couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed by the anticlimactic chorus of “Less of You” or the cliché rugged rock sound of “Dark Down Here”. They weren’t bad tracks, but don’t sound as great as they can be after hearing the potential that Tea has built up.
I found myself having the same confliction over the lyrics on Coming Home as well. For the most part, it was quite evident that Tea’s songwriting is raw and personal. Maybe a bit simply stated, but the realness of his words can easily be translated for listeners. As a fellow NYC lover, I easily related to the truthful “Union Square”. Painting the picture of sitting on the steps of Downtown’s most interesting spot during a late night, Tea’s words put you right in that frame and encapsulates the historic park with great justice (“Come one, come all down to Union Square / the lost and the lonely and those in despair / the homeless and the hungry and the ones who don’t care”). However yet again, I find myself disappointed with the risky lyrical format of “Saddest Song”. Tea’s commended attempt at breaking the fourth wall just ends up unnecessary and distracting from the heartfelt message of the song. His visual power, which gets his message across much clearer, is nicely executed on title track “Coming Home”, which compliments its softer country sound with the opening line “The blanket of blue was dripping with red, green, and gold / these are the prophets we see from the treasure we sold”.
Coming Home has its highs and lows, but regardless of how you see it, Jonathan Tea’s effort and passion is brightly displayed throughout the debut album. This factor makes the album worth a listen, especially for country rock fans who are looking to support some promising up and coming talent.
Go to JonTea.com for more information on Jonathan Tea and his debut album Coming Home!