“Hit after hit, all squeezed into 24 minutes”
WORDS BY ROBBIE DADOMO-EDGINGTON
JAWNY (fka Johnny Utah) has just released his hotly anticipated major label debut, For Abby – made up of hits, and no misses. Clocking in at a lean 24 minutes, For Abby is a concept album, depicting a comically pathetic guy trying to get back with his ex, via a mixtape made up of songs he wrote to express how he feels – a familiar concept to many of us, I’m sure. The conceit works well, due to its relatively minimal approach; it is not as though all of the songs on the album were written with this express purpose, so they all exist as great tracks outside of the context of the album. Instead, these songs fit around a couple of tape-recorded skits, such as the opening Intro in which JAWNY says (on his dad’s tape-deck), that he’s ‘not even a bad guy’ because he ‘made you pasta one time’. These skits and asides afford the album a cohesion and structure that is often missed by debut albums that try to include an artists’ popular singles.
This is how JAWNY pulls together an album that is largely made up of previously released tracks, including his biggest hit Honeypie, which brought him to everyone’s attention when it went viral back in early 2019. There’s a self-awareness to closing out the album on Honeypie, especially as it is preceded by one of the tape-deck messages: ‘you said this next song was your favourite song, so I guess I’ll just go into that…bye’. Here JAWNY recognises that a lot of people out there only know him from this track, but rather than run away from that, he embraces it.
This only works if the other tracks on the album are of the same calibre as Honeypie, and luckily for all of us, they are. New songs like For Abby and You Got a Man hold up against fan favourites like Honeypie and 4Tounce, making the album complete without a single skippable song. The only noticeable omission in terms of his recent hits is the irresistibly funky Anything You Want, released earlier this year after signing with Interscope Records. It’s a surprising omission as it conceptually fits in, but the album doesn’t noticeably suffer without it. Conversely, one moment that doesn’t completely work is the Christian Blue feature on Super Bad Mantra, which is by no means bad, but doesn’t quite fit in with the concept or vibe of a guy writing songs to get his girl back. Still, Super Bad Mantra is still a very fun track, especially the Prince-like vocals on the chorus.
In fact, these vocals are just one example of the many styles that JAWNY explores on the album, from lo-fi bedroom pop, to hip-hop, to funk, to indie rock, to traditional singer-songwriter fare, and a lot in between. Traces of these can be felt on all the songs, instead of each song having a totally different style from the last. This once again makes sure that we have a proper album, rather than a compilation, and it cements JAWNY as an artist with a unique style and sound, as opposed to a replication of something before him.
Highlights include the title track, Trigger of Love, and 4Tounce, but it seems a bit silly to describe tracks on an album with no lowlights as highlights. Each and every song could conceivably be a big hit or a fan favourite, and that’s the beauty of For Abby, hit after hit, all squeezed into 24 minutes. You could listen to this album 60 times in one day, if you were so inclined. It’s definitely catchy enough. I think I’m at the 10 mark right now.
Check out the album here.
Accompanying the album is a short documentary he dropped on his YouTube channel, titled For Abby The Documentary. Check that out below for an insight into the man behind the music.
FOR FANS OF:
DAYGLOW | STILL WOOZY | BINKI