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Monday
Jul252016

"Adult Entertainment", by Jon Herington

You’d never know by listening to Jon Herington’s solo projects that he’s been Steely Dan’s guitar virtuoso for the past 17 years.  With the exception of his 1992 release The Complete Rhyming Dictionary, which was also released as Pulse and Cadence, Jon’s wheelhouse for his solo material is generally a concoction of straightforward rock and blues.  Because of his close association with the Dan, I always anticipate a jazz influenced record each time I learn that a new solo project is on the way, but after the past four releases I have come to the conclusion that I am a slow learner.  While he has masterfully handled Steely Dan’s jazz infused material, I’ve learned that Jon’s personal musical passion lies within his love for 60’s and 70’s Rock.

Four years after his last studio album, Time On My Hands, Jon returns with Adult Entertainment, a twelve track effort featuring bandmates Dennis Espantman on bass and vocals, as well as Frank Pagano on drums and vocals.  This time around, you can sense that the songs as a whole were the focus, as opposed to the guitar-heavy approach on Time On My Hands.  The title of the album is nothing short of appropriate, as in a nutshell Adult Entertainment is a fun, party-driven type of album that contains notes of influences that have shaped Jon’s musical sensibilities, such as Slaughtered By Love, which is straight out of the Rolling Stones songbook.  Even Jon’s vocals seem to have a touch of Mick’s, as they nestle in between a familiar mid-tempo, blues piano, bass and drum groove with a sweet guitar solo thrown in for good measure.

I did mention fun, didn’t I?  There are a couple of tracks on Adult Entertainment that put an instant smile on your face, including Gimme Some Green, which you’d swear is circa the late 50’s or early 60’s.  The main chorus, “Life’s more fun when you’ve got some money honey” sums up the lyrical idea, with a jaunty, bouncy vibe and some blazing, comical horn licks provided by Steely Dan bandmate Michael Leonhart, along with Dan Levine.  Another fun track is Doctor’s Orders, which again is plucked from an early 60’s genre and lyrically details health advice from a patient’s doctor, which are then misconstrued for his desire and obsession for a love interest.  

Jon also explores new musical territory on Adult Entertainment, particularly on the track Can I Get A Volunteer, a slow-paced, honky tonk vibe that channels his inner Patsy Cline.  A unique vocal approach for Jon lies within the track Handle Me With Care, where he belts out his lead vocals using his head voice and delivers a Curtis Mayfield type of sound, along with some fantastic guitar work using a cool, psychedelic guitar effect and some equally curious flute and bass clarinet work by Stan Harrison.  

Aside from the tracks that explore unique musical territory, Jon delivers some very solid, straightforward, hooky rock tracks in which he’s so proficient.  The opening track Mind Over Matter is a mid-tempo, toe-tappin’ tune with a bouncy vibe and filled with catchy lyrics that’ll find their way into your head even when you’re not listening to it.  The same holds true for the track that immediately follow, No Way No How Not Me.  With a more uptempo pace, the lyrics of this track are curiously clever with a twist on chivalry - where in this case the male subject is every bit the gentleman, but his love interest is into whips, chains, three ways and various ‘activities’ he’s just not into.  And finally, Blacklisted In Bougieville cleverly describes the high life and the fall of Ponzi-scheme con artist Bernie Madoff.  Musically, it’s a driving, horn-driven tune with a tinge of funk and blues, along with some hot guitar slinging by Jon.

The beauty of Jon’s solo work, including the tracks on Adult Entertainment, doesn’t simply lie within the incredible guitar wizardry we’ve come to expect.  Too often great musicians get pigeonholed with one specific talent, yet sadly other aspects of their creativity tend to go unnoticed.  Such is not the case with Jon Herington.  Through his solo projects, he takes full advantage of showing the world that his talents stretch beyond the guitar.  He’s a savvy songwriter and his lyrics are well-crafted and often contain a rye sense of humor that you might not expect from his generally laid back and cool personality.  

Be sure to visit insidemusicast.com to hear an in-depth interview with Jon, as we further discuss Adult Entertainment and play several tracks from the new album.

- Rick Such

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