I haven't had the pleasure of seeing Jon Gomm play live but the viral video of his astonishing solo performance of 'Passionflower' shows that I am definitely missing out on something.
The sounds he gets out of a humble acoustic guitar hardly seem possible. This includes deftly changed tunings and the use of the body of the instrument to add percussive accompaniment. The closest comparison I can think of is the 'man-band' of the late Michael Hedges.
Gomm's virtuoso playing has already wowed fellow musicians but to gain a wider appreciation he also needs great tunes and strong songs. Fortunately, he has plenty.
'The Faintest Idea' is the Blackpool-born singer-songwriter’s third full length release following his 2003 home-recorded debut, and the follow up, Secrets Nobody Keeps, ten years later.
The timing of these albums shows that he doesn't work quickly, an indication of his meticulous attention to detail. Of the record, he explains “I tend to write in a really painstaking way. The last few years of my life have involved a lot of personal trauma – from me and my wife losing a pregnancy, through to losing other people in my life.”
The album's enigmatic title is intended to evoke the belief that everything is made out of "vibrating strings of probability. The eleven songs demonstrate his virtuoso gifts and also features synth parts and production work from Australian musician Andy Sorenson. It also shows him to be a fine song writer
"I don't want to be another wannabe" he sings on Dream Factories, a song that seems to criticize the production-line approach to music production.
Gomm's music takes another path entirely with beautifully crafted songs which have a soulful, emotional resonance that don't rely on catchy choruses or simplistic messages.
I doubt whether the album will be a mainstream hit but that is a reflection of the poverty of most commercial releases rather than a criticism of the quality of this recording.