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The Volunteers
Jade Tree Records

My first introduction to Onelinedrawing and Jonah Matranga was via a collaboration he did with another band called Rival Schools. With this album I could pick out the Rival School's influence and what I could suppose were Jonah Matranga's influence, and it was intriguing. I wanted to find out more about Onelinedrawing and happened across The Volunteers which is Onelinedrawing's second album following Visitor. As I did more research into Jonah Matranga's past I found out he was the lead singer in a band called Far, a band I had heard of but yet had not listened to, but wanted to. Far was a short-lived emo band that seems to be a common reference in the new world order of current emo artists such as Dashboard Confessional- their influence can be found in many places. So I knew Jonah Matranga had a lot to live up to with his solo project.

And by solo, I mean he did it all by himself, apart from a little help lent by friends and family, the entire album is completely him. Even touring it sounds like, when he plays shows, he is alone on stage with a guitar and a processing stack that he calls "R2D2", who provides all of the drum and incidental backings. I don't think you can go anymore solo than that. And as to his worthiness though, I can't compare to Far, who I still have never heard, I can just judge him by what is present on this album, and I am impressed.

Jonah Matranga is a very talented artist, singer, and songwriter. The album shows a great range of emotion and technique, from the elemental "As Much To Myself As To You" to the complex "We Had a Deal" there resounds pathos and a sly sense of humor that I believe would characterize the artist himself. It is a broken down sort-of emo that catches me the most; it simplifies rudimentary feelings into a coherent and smooth songcraft so that almost every cut of this album is catchy and inspired. Many of the songs just are, paying pretense to no one and accomplishing much for the listener. "A Ghost" is haunting (no pun intended), and "Stay" sticks with you (Okay, pun intended), and over the course of the record show the multi-faceted layering Matranga uses to make the listener feel.

The worst critique I could give this album is that it wallows just a tad on the emotional end of the spectrum, and would almost need a follow-on track at the end of the album to beg the listener "not to jump". Beyond that I liked his voice, but I could imagine a lot of people not caring for it and maybe even finding it annoying. It is very characteristic, but being different isn't necessarily a benefit sometimes.

Now, if you will excuse me, I definitely need to go out and buy a Far album to further my education and move on to his first Onelinedrawing album to see how the transition really works out. Oh yeah, and if you have a chance, you really should pick up that album I first mentioned, Rival Schools United By Onelinedrawing, as it is a very good EP and introduction to both of these bands. If you like emo, you need to know Jonah Matranga and Onelinedrawing, what else can I say?


Track Listing:

1. New York
2. Over It
3. A Ghost
4. Superhero
5. Stay
6. We Had A Deal
7. Oh, Boys
8. Livin' Small
9. Believer
10. Portland
11. As Much To Myself As You

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