Orphan Jon And The Abandoned – Over The Pain
Vintage LaNell Records – 2022
12 tracks; 56 minutes
Orphan Jon (English) was nominated for a Blues Blast award for his debut disc in 2018 and now returns with his second studio album. Some significant changes in personnel have seen Jon’s former writing partner Bruce Krupnik depart the band (though he was involved in the writing of six tunes here); his replacement is another former Blues Blast award nominee, Alastair Greene, whose strong guitar work is a major feature of the album (which he also produced); who knows, perhaps the pair bonded at the Blues Blast Awards ceremony in 2018? Other musicians are the rhythm section of Ray Sadolsky on bass and Jason Blakely on drums; Michael Leasure replaces Jason on one cut and adds B/V’s on another, Mike Malone adds piano to two tracks and B/V’s to one, Rebecca Aguilar guests on vocals on two tracks. The band is also referred to by its acronym – OJATA. The writing credits see Jon having a hand in all bar the sole cover, aided mainly by Bruce and Alastair.
The opening track takes no prisoners as Alastair lays down a heavy, rocking riff as Jon describes himself becoming a “hot mess” when confronted by the girl in the “Tight Dress”. The heavy rock tones continue on “She”, another song about a femme fatale, complete with a frenetic solo from Alastair but the pace drops for the title track. “Over The Pain” is a strong cut, Alastair doing his best Peter Green impression at the beginning and end of the song, over which we get to appreciate Jon’s vocal range as he emotes about managing to get “Over The Pain”; the heavier central solo contrasting with the ballad feel of the track. On “Got No Name” Alastair breaks out his slide as Jon sings of tough life on the streets before drummer Ray opens “Broken Angel” with some New Orleans style drum beats, Jon singing about a chance encounter in a bar. The sole cover marks the half way point in the album: “Going Down To Mobile” is from Savoy Brown’s 1972 release Hell Bound Train, Alastair again using slide to good effect on a version that he starts in semi-acoustic mode but really rips it up after the first verse.
“Living My Life” is more of a shuffle with relaxed guitar work that again allows us to hear Jon’s range while on “Somewhere Salvation” Alastair doubles up on lead and slide guitars to provide an attractive piece of classic rock. “Redheaded Woman Blues” is an acoustic tune with Alastair’s bottleneck and guest drummer Michael Leasure, but we are quickly back to a full band sound on “Everyone Knows”, the longest cut on the album, allowing Alastair to build an atmospheric backing for Jon to build his vocals about his troubled childhood before heavy rock and slide riffs come in. “Memories Of Me And You” is a slower paced rocker with a torrid guitar solo mid tune and we close with “There’s No Need” which starts slowly with hints of gospel, a feeling that is increased by the revival tent spirit of the later part of the tune as Jon plays the preacher over vibrant organ work from Mike Malone and some freaky guitar tones from Alastair.
Fans of the band will be pleased to hear a new effort from Jon and his bandmates.