Life In The Weeds

Jonathan Francis

Chunksaah Records, 2022

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Formerly the bassist and founding member of the New Jersey punk trio The Moms, Jonathan Francis returns to his rock'n'roll roots for his debut solo album Life In The Weeds, featuring 10 very enjoyable, thoughtful, and sometimes passionate tunes.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The album leads with Deaglan Howlett's warm electric guitar on “Borrowed Song,” where Matt Slope’s skilled drumming complements Francis’ raspy vocals and the Americana-meets-punk haze. “Snow On The Beach” continues the grit with Anders Carlson contributing saxophone to the summer anthem, and the title track follows with crashing drums, no lack of swirling melodies and a bit of cautiousness thanks to the well timed keys.

Side A exits with the reflective tone and dreamy nods of the sing-along friendly “Waited Too Long,” and the heartland rock of “Squirrels On 7th Avenue,” where thumping moments are met with intimate introspection, too.

The back half of the listen is bit more rugged, with the tense but tuneful “G2G,” as well as the thicker, nearly rootsy swagger of the darker, ebullient “Ghost.” The initially calmer, acoustic guitar focused “Wait For You” erupts into a throaty, cathartic album highlight, while “Abuser” is extremely emotive, almost pleading, as a bit of post-punk spirit is met with soulful backing vocals. “GRTNGS FR ASBRY PRK” then exits the listen with a mashing of gentle acoustic guitar, firm drumming and fuller plugged-in guitars for the loud versus soft dynamics.

Francis handles guitar, bass, keys, and (of course) vocals across the listen, and with additional vocals from Dan Shields and Brian Hughes, not to mention Pete Steinkopf's (of Bouncing Souls fame) top notch producing skills. All together it makes for an intense, soothing and superbly textured body of work that easily warrants repeat listens.

Rating: A-

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