It’s been a strange trip for the troupe that is The Jonathan Arellano Project. Their first EP, El Loco, is akin to the first time you drink a stout ale and you find out that you’re allergic to hops. The madness settles in and you’re restless, confused and in a state of euphoria. El Solitario, the second EP, was a slow groove, like when you find gin & tonic or red wine. You still get a kick in the tastebuds, you still get smashed, but you also get to know yourself better (and maybe control yourself with the wisdom of years).
It’s no surprise that this new EP, El Enamorado, is even classier, but at the same time, slower. No, actually the word I’m looking for is: nostalgic. The groovy jazz created by The Jonathan Arellano Project has now tapped into that melancholy-tinged drink and quaffed it until there was not a single drop left in the vial. A rich port or perhaps a very old single malt, it’s an elegant affair, but also quite sombre.
The twinned songs of ‘Ferva’ and ‘El Pobre de Asís’ are a rope-a-dope of blue and grey emotions that surge through us from time to time. The party is over, night is slowly turning into day and maybe things didn’t go as planned, so our left and right sides of the brain are having a discussion, sounding like a sax and a piano pretty much improvising, trying to outdo each other. ‘Ferva’ is the stiff drink for the man who is by the corner, looking at photographs of long gone times, ‘El Pobre de Asís’ is the old gentleman who is drunk (absinthe, natch) and dances by himself under the slanted lamps of a bar called Oblivion.
Yes, it is a very ominous EP, with a small kick of happiness in the contagiously hummable, poppy flower that goes by the name of ‘Besos de Vainilla’. A proclamation of love, it is a ray of sunshine amidst a very solemn affair. Damn it, that chorus will never go away now and it’s a very welcomed embrace after a hard journey.
But wait… was it just a passing moment? I’m afraid yes. ‘El Enamorado’, the closing track, goes back to the melancholic branch of the tree (and hits a few bumps on its way). Maybe ‘Besos de Vainilla’ was a single moment of happiness that shone from the jukebox (sort of like the story Billy Joel‘s ‘Piano Man’ tells). Now, there are no quarters left and people are back to their current state of depression. ‘El Enamorado’ is a fantastic piano-heavy song. Always a lovely instrument, my grampa used to say a Piano was a full orchestra and for a while, I never got it. As time has passed, I now understand this and ‘El Enamorado’, with its swaying motion between stark and joy, gloom and longing, is a full orchestra of emotions. It might be a tad hard to digest to someone looking for something breezier, but sometimes you need to give in to the dark embrace of melancholy and get to know the feeling. I’ll drink to that.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López