Jon Autry ‘Beautifully Broken’
Vinyl Fury has reached a milestone, as I recently received my first record label solicitation. Laura over at Usonian Records was looking for music blogs to send copies of her label’s first full length release to, and was kind enough to ask me to be involved.
Now, I wouldn’t waste anyone’s time if the music was not interesting, free records or no. But I listened to a sample of the release, and quite liked it. So, I was happy to accept the invitation.
After several releases over the last 8 years, ‘Beautifully Broken’ is the latest full length from Jon Autry. My first taste online was intriguing, and I’m happy to say the album was well received by yours truly.
While almost entirely written, performed, mixed and mastered (quite successfully) by Jon himself, it would be easy to think you were listening to a group without having that knowledge. There is enough personality and distinction in each instrument to elicit the feeling of a band, which is great. The collection of songs is quite eclectic as well.
It starts off with a short number that gives off a singer-songwriter vibe and kicks into a thicker, electronically driven rhythm in ‘I Got Lost’ that brought an 80s vibe to mind, ala Tears For Fears. There are a few other tracks which use tasteful synth patterns like this that I really enjoyed.
There will be comparisons to Elliot Smith and the like, and those are certainly valid. But, there is a mid-90s alternative band vibe that I feel throughout the album. ‘I Know’ really nails it. The chorus vocal and guitar melody are absolutely killer. It is currently the sample song available at Usonian’s bandcamp page and I think it’s a perfect choice.
The harmonies and fervor of Jon’s voice on ‘Don’t Mean Anything’ really reminded me of the pop-psych sounds of Scott Weiland’s 1998 solo debut ‘12 Bar Blues’. In fact I would be much quicker to compare Jon’s voice and songwriting to Weiland before Smith, which I hope would be taken as a compliment as it certainly is meant to be.
'Beautifully Broken', while a title I find a bit cliche at this point, is a very fine effort. There are lush moments, there are stripped down moments. Even with 12 tracks it is a short listen, but a satisfying one.
Now, of course, the vinyl. The recording sounds good, decently pressed on clear blue vinyl which limited to just 300 copies. My only criticism of the presentation is the art direction. The photos used for the front and back are of Jon’s car after being smashed just outside the recording studio he worked, taken for insurance purposes. Now I can understand the personal significance and the possible connection to the album title, I just think the intent isn’t very well executed.
Whether it be the source image or the fault of the manufacturer, the photos are quite grainy and underwhelming, especially the front cover which seems to be an extreme close up of the already low res image on the back. If one was flipping through records and came across this cover, I imagine the only reason for intrigue would be ‘why would they use that?!’.
Fortunately, it’s the music that matters, and the music is good.
You can purchase the album on vinyl for a very reasonable $15 (including shipping) over HERE.
Now, Jon and Laura are married and operating Usonian together, so naturally this would be their first release. Running a label, even in a rather successful time for independent music and vinyl records, is difficult. I wish them the best. I’ll be keeping an eye on them. So should you.
- Dan // Vinyl Fury