If you’ve heard of Jon Gomm, it’s because of the viral success of his best known track, Passionflower. The percussion guitarist rose the the world’s attention after a simple one word Tweet of “Wow.” from Stephen Fry gave the Leeds musician 2 millions YouTube views back in 2012. That figure has now risen to over 8 million (and counting) – if you want to add to that, or you’ve somehow missed the phenomenon, you can check out the video below. The title of his most recent record, Secrets Nobody Keeps, gives a nod towards the power of communication via social networks.
After the release of the record, he went on to tour the world with it, playing the likes of South America and Africa, as well as closer to home achievements in the form of Download and Electric Picnic festivals. This March, Jon heads out on tour again, his first since his first extensive UK tour since his 28 date sold out one back in October 2013. Jon speaks of his aims for the rest of the year; “My next plan was that I wanted to make sure my new post-Passionflower online audience got to hear my old tunes, so I gathered up my most requested songs, and I’ve filmed a new series of live-in-the-studio videos I’m calling Live In The Acoustic Asylum sessions, which I’m drip-feed releasing throughout 2015. I also have a few brand new songs I’m pretty excited about, which I’ll be testing out on this tour.”
One of the incredible things about Jon Gomm’s work is that after the success of Passionflower, you can’t compare him to anyone – he’s the person you compare others too. For those unfamiliar, Jon’s music is in the same vein as the likes of John Butler Trio, Andy McKee and Erik Mongrain, his straightforward percussion guitar (though I believe that might be an oxymoron) enhanced with touches of vocals and other instrumental. On the back of the CD case reads details of the release, and attention should be drawn to the second sentence; “One guitar, no overdubs or loops”. Perhaps that’s what makes this style of work even more impressive.
Far from being the one-trick pony people may hypothesise Jon to be, this ten track offering covers all kinds of wonderful. With several tracks featuring saxophone and one featuring vocals from Natasha Koczy, there are layers to the music far beyond that which might be expected. The dappling with music beyond the guitar twists and experimental hint into the sound, and with vocals appearing on only just over half the tracks, there’s a strong atmosphere conveyed with a more intense focus on the backing.
With an album of this calibre, it’s impossible to choose a favourite, and futile attempting to do so – real stand out moments come with fourth Wukan Motorcycle Kid and Natasha’s vocals on Deep Cut. Between the simplicity of Jon’s guitar and the technicalities with which it is played comes a wonderful balance – he is a lot more than a one track wonder.