Jon DeRosa   ‘Black Halo’    (Rocket Girl)   25th May 2015 

Judging by the $7 million payout by Ph. Williams and RU. Thicke for desecrating the filicidally upsetting grave of Marvin Gaye – seen by many as The Postmodern End of Creativity – Jon DeRosa should be quaking in his Californian cowboy boots at the prospect of Messrs Simon & Garfunkel catching wind of his ‘The Sun is Crying’ and taking him to his Brooklyn cleaners copyright court for ‘being inspired by the feel’ of their ‘Cecilia’. Pretty much note for note, but easily surpassing the 60s slattern’s tale in atmosphere and its own form of loveliness.

The crest of neo-folk rootsiness and songwriterly dark dramatics kicked in a few years ago by Anna Calvi and Beirut are brought into mandolin-by-Mariachi horns focus, given dark romance by the Rat Pack-esque crooning of DeRosa. Calvi’s vampires-in-a-church-with-a-Gretch aesthetic works perfectly for the ex-La Monte Young student DeRosa, his plaintive croon resonating around Black Halo like Dean Martin in an old school Presbyterian chapel on a mountain in deepest south Wales.

There are some genuinely beautiful moments on this second album, hipsterishly belying DeRosa’a tattooed and bearded Hells Angels look. No one can tell what anyone is anymore. He’s seemingly strongest with a foil to work off, for example with Carina Round and her unpretentious, bell-clear perfect pitch in the sublime ‘Dancing In A Dream’. ‘When Daddy Took The Treehouse Down’ is a charming piece of nostalgic whimsy, those Mexican trumpets sashaying in again to remind the listener she is too young to remember Daddy’s eccentricities.

Jon DeRosa very early into his recording life (I hate the word career, especially these days with careerists EVERYWHERE) has total control and authority over what he does, not too surprising when you take into account the training he’s received and the environments surrounding him. Every possible cool box on consistently excellent label Rocket Girl is ticked, hopefully not straightjacketing the Booklyn beardy weardy too much for future endeavours. Basically it sounds like majestic album highlight ‘Knock Once’ might do a Beirut’s ‘Elephant Gun’, and go off worldwide. Such single-minded dedication that DeRosa possesses surely deserves it.

Words:  Sean Bw Parker

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