Jon McLeod is wrapping his alternative style around some big themes with his debut EP Dream… You’re Awake. Through the 5 tracks of the EP, he takes you through feelings of affection, confidence, corruption, betrayal, anxiety and comfort. The emotions and situations of the tracks are threaded into his distinctive guitar style and compelling vocal delivery.
Over the last 10 years, McLeod has written, recorded and performed with various projects. Now, he is hitting out on his own and developing his own acoustic trademark. Packed with emotional takes that will leave you reeling, he calmly envelops you in his thick soundscape.
The EP starts with the title track ‘Dream… You’re Awake’ which draws you in with this lovely rolling acoustic guitar line. The soft melody sets you on a gentle soundscape as McLeod’s vocals seep up from the lower levels. This song really sets a dreamy soundscape for the album. The flow of the music is reminiscent of the moment you just drift out of sleep. While you are floating on the dreamy soundscape, the lyrics have a deeper message resting in them.
‘Fuck Up’ continues the gentle acoustic openings with a floating line. There is a very relaxed atmosphere to the melody as you fall into McLeod’s distinct guitar style. The strings in the background meld with the vocals adding a depth to the music while the piano gives you bright notes to latch onto. The vocals have a soft flow as they work around insecurities and the anxiety of everything being destroyed. As with the opening track, there is an interesting interplay between the relaxed melody and the deep lyrics.
There is something a little dark about the opening of ‘Sly Combat’. This feeling rests in the low levels of the guitar opening and is enhanced by McLeod’s vocals. His voice loses some of the dreaminess for a deeper slide. The cymbals and strings add to the dark vibe of the track. The change in vibe makes this track unique, but it still retains the easy-listening experience of the rest of the EP.
‘Hang’ takes you back to a lighter tone with the opening. The guitar line feels like raindrops gently tapping against a window. McLeod’s vocals roll over the melody like fog on a rainy day. There is a softness to this single that sinks into your soul. The combination of the piano line and the acoustic guitar makes you think of cosy spaces where you can relax while listening. The lyrics continue the deeper messaging that is part of the EP and are worth taking the time to really listen to.
The EP ends with ‘The Cavalry Comes’ which hits you with McLeod’s vocals from the first moment. There is a driving feeling to the vocals and melody, but it is not too fast-paced. The flow of the guitar draws you into the soundscape that becomes richer as the song progresses. There is a good vibe to the song as it lightly lets you down after the depths of the EP.
Jon McLeod uses his debut EP Dream… You’re Awake to take you through various emotions using heavy lyrics in a gentle soundscape. Each track has a gentleness to the music that makes the lyrics hit even harder.