Jonah Yano - Portrait of a Dog Music Album Reviews

Jonah Yano - Portrait of a Dog Music Album Reviews
Featuring the jazzy tones of BADBADNOTGOOD, the second album from the Hiroshima-born, Montreal-based singer-songwriter explores heartbreak and familial history with a subtle and dynamic approach. 

In 2022, upon noticing that his grandparents were beginning to forget his name, Jonah Yano traveled to their home in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, hoping to archive any and all memories of them. Tirelessly recording footage and conversations, and digitizing thousands of photos and documents with the help of his brother, Yano channeled his emotional energy into the gut-wrenching highlight of his new album, Portrait of a Dog. At the center of “Song About the Family House”—marked with somber acoustic guitar and his wistful, cracking vocals, trailing away after every line like a faded memory—is a rush to immortalize his family’s history, knowing that even if the people he loves are gone, the details of late nights and home-cooked meals won’t be lost.

This connection to the past brings a new level of focus to Yano’s work. His debut album, 2020’s Souvenir, blended drum’n’bass, rock, and ambient with acoustic instrumentation, adopting the sounds of his numerous collaborators to create an expansive landscape. In his lyrics, Yono reflected on his parents’ separation and the experience of being an expatriate after moving from Hiroshima to Vancouver at a young age. Refining the sprawling sound of Souvenir, Portrait of a Dog is produced entirely by the Toronto group BADBADNOTGOOD, encasing Yano’s melancholy lyrics and tranquil guitar playing in a more casual environment and giving the album a meditative, inviting tone.

Portrait of a Dog meanders naturally as Yano follows the band’s jazzy arrangements and bends around instrumentalists like cellist Eliza Niemi. The sections that accompany Yano’s vocals are purposeful and restrained, harkening back to the effective, straight-laced compositions from BBNG’s 2016 album IV. On “Call the Number,” Yano croons along to a mixture of subdued piano and sweeping cello. But once the vocals stop and the band takes over, the improvisation and solos run wild, transforming the coffeehouse lullaby into a frenetic live set in a smoky basement club. Pianist Felix Fox-Pappas dazzles at the end of “Always” and Leland Whitty closes “Haven’t Haven’t” with a rousing tenor saxophone solo.

Each of the 12 songs was written in the aftermath of Yano’s trip to his grandparents, while he was also going through a breakup. Yano credits songwriters like Adrianne Lenker and Feist as inspiration, and he follows in their lineage of cryptic, diaristic intimacy. Heartbreak seeps into the material, but instead of recounting the pain in precise details, he deals in pithy allusions, leaving clues about his feelings. At times, his sparse approach can lighten the emotional weight of the material, like his whispered lines about “the cold middle of the night” in “The Speed of Sound!” The crux of the song depends on everything but the actual words: His voice lilts with every syllable, making the imagery feel crushing and poignant.

Yano can conjure equally affecting moments even when he isn’t speaking to us directly. A recording of his grandfather’s voice opens “So Sweet,” inaccurately describing their familial relationship: “Get your music out and say, ‘This is for my uncle,’” he instructs, before being quickly corrected by Yano’s grandmother. It’s a sobering moment, but it speaks to Yano’s undaunted pursuit to preserve the past, in all its imperfection and beauty.

Share on Google Plus

About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Jonah Yano - Portrait of a Dog Music Album Reviews Jonah Yano - Portrait of a Dog Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on February 10, 2023 Rating: 5


Post a Comment