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  • Jonathan Widran

JONATHAN BRENNER, Instagram Success

One of the grand benefits of being an indie artist in the streaming era is the ability of DIY artists like Jonathan Brenner to freewheel their creativity, follow their peripatetic muses and build fan bases a million ways without having to adhere to a single radio format or bin in a record store.


A wildly clever and often epic songwriter with romantic/heartbreaking storytelling, witty social commentary and the weaving of pointed musical fables at the core of his creativity, the Atlanta based musical enigma – currently riding a fresh wave of intoxicating eclecticism via his second album Instagram Success - is so wondrously all over the map that even his promoters have a hard time defining his artistry.


Is he pop? His infectious, 70s-esque, jangly brassy, vocal harmony filled romp “Silly Little Habit” screams yep! Is he country? His country accent and plucky steel guitars on “Little Lost Lame in Dixieland” seem to confirm this, but his hilarious jibes about Southern living make him more kin to the musical comedy aesthetic of chief influence Tom Lehrer. (So maybe that’s two genres in one?) Is Brenner folk/Americana? Yeah, and with a little bluesy keyboard and rock guitar twinge on the lyrical, easy to sing along with “Riding That Money Train” (which has some edgy social commentary and the acoustic driven irony laden “Jesus Loves the Poor,” which also has blues flavors and a snazzy jazzy trumpet solo.


Speaking of folk and fascinating storytelling, one of the album’s grandest works – in line with the type of offbeat character driven dramas we used to hear from the likes of Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and Gordon Lightfoot – is “The Ballad of Orson Jones,” a compelling folk rock narrative about a looney aspiring screenwriter/possible murderer from Alabama who goes insane pursuing his dream in Hollywood.


Brenner’s more so called “conventional” songs are no less engaging, with the horn-tinged, old school romantic nostalgia “Hangin’ On the Edge Over You” imparting light amidst the melancholy and the charming duet “Key To My Heart” bringing the sweetness of  Elton John and Kiki Dee-style dual magic to modern times. Titling the album after the quirky, jazzy and humorous socially relevant opener “Instagram Success” will get listeners’ attention, but it’s just the open door to one of the most unique multi-faceted indie pop experiences you’ll have all year!   

 

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