Change happens. This is a fact that most can agree upon and often accept over time. Some people even embrace it, seeing
change as an outlet for discovery and invention. With Cruel to Be Young, Jonezetta did just this and
Devoted fans of 2006's Popularity might find themselves checking and rechecking the album cover just to make
sure they have the right band, or that it wasn't mislabeled. Yes, this is Jonezetta. No, it is not the same band.
Since their debut album, former drummer Mick Parsons joined One Eleven Records artist Rookie of the Year, taking his
funky dance beats with him. Newcomers Alex Warren (Drums) and Tyler Kemp (Keys) fill the void, but bring with them a
completely different sound.
The biggest question going into this album though is, just how different is it? To put it simply, don't expect to dance much.
Tracks revealed online leading up to the release of the album reveal a newer, softer Jonezetta. The band on Cruel to be Young
is one that contemplates and takes more time, maybe even relaxes. Not that this change is bad. In fact, the best way to enjoy the
album is to pretend that this isn't the same band that brought you Popularity; because it isn't.
At times, lead singer Robert Chisholm channels an inner softness akin to Coldplay's Chris Martin. His voice is soft at
times, floating over tracks like "Paint & Picture" and "I Watched You, Out From Your Window" with ease. The addition of Kemp and
his piano complement this, creating solid laid-back, mid-tempo alternative rock. As dancing takes the backseat, melody and
musicianship take the forefront in a big way. The title track, "Cruel to Be Young," is a perfect example of this. As Chisholm
eases into the first verse, the song builds and builds until it explodes into the chorus. Dynamic changes, as well as
unforgettable melodies on each track, create an album nearly as impressive as the first in many ways.
Yet despite their new direction, Jonezetta doesn't disappoint fans of their old sound either. At times, "The Queen City Song"
and "Busy Body," both with a sense of urgency not seen on the rest of the album, serve as a reminder to the days of
Popularity. Chisholm's signature wail has not disappeared completely, but has rather been conserved to provide an even
more dramatic effect.
As in Popularity, the band is lyrically all over the map. With songs about love and youth, Jonezetta remains
lyrically cryptic when it comes to faith. At one point in the title track Chisholm contemplates, "God only knows what I think
anymore. I write things down, don't know what for." This statement proves to be powerful in revealing a message that has
always been present in Jonezetta's work; being real. No matter what each song is about, it is more than evident that it is
from the heart. This realness is what makes Jonezetta so enjoyable no matter what they sound like.
Despite a departure from the fire that was characteristic of their early work, Jonezetta's Cruel to Be Young is worth
a listen. And another listen. And another listen. And at that point it doesn't matter how different the album is; it's Jonezetta.
- Review date: 9/14/08, written by Flip Choquette of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Let's just make one thing clear, right now: Cruel to Be Young is no Popularity.
Gone are the band's dance beats, as well as their original drummer. With the addition of a new drummer and keyboardist,
Jonezetta have opted to take their sound in a completely new direction; however, does it work? In a word, yes.
They've recorded an album that by far surpasses Popularity in every way.
And while the changes are unexpected, it's for the better. It may be that they'll lose a few fans, but not
without gaining many others. In regards to the tracks themselves, there's very little not to like. Still, I would have
liked to have seen a couple more songs on the album-taking into account the two hidden tracks, it really leaves it with
only ten songs, accompanied by one instrumental piece, and an interesting interlude of guitar hum. Minor quibbles aside,
it's a great album, and has more than its fair share of replay value. Well done, Jonezetta.
- Adam Dawson of Jesusfreakhideout.com