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From Isle of Wight and now resident in Surrey, Jon Hart says of Reborn, “The central theme is the idea of artistic re-birth, re-evaluating your worth and ethos as an artist”. As this is his debut album, that caused a bit of head-scratching, but it is obvious from the well-developed contents of Reborn that hard graft has gone into their gestation and recording.

The sign of a high quality song is that it will translate easily into a full-blown band arrangement from a rudimentary demo or, in the case of Reborn, a well-produced simple acoustic treatment. One can imagine ‘Sticks And Stones’, for example, re-purposed with a bluesy rock band accompaniment, and the impressive ‘Stormy Weather Rolls’ would be interesting to hear in a fuller arrangement with, say, a Danny Thompson-alike upright bass, brushed snare and cello.

Described as “Singer-songwriter, fingerstyle guitarist and beat-boxer”, Hart certainly fulfils the first two descriptions, displaying enviable expertise with Martin and Gibson guitars, counterpointing his own sung melodies with deft fingerpicking, damped string percussion and snap. That percussive element and inventive guitar fills are especially effective on ‘Windchime’ and the title track.

Short instrumental interludes include ‘Waves’ and ‘Molly Rose’. Both atmospheric, their sense of space and jazz-folk harmonics are subtly deployed. ‘Red Room’, accompanied by Chris Woods, is laden with tension and inventive interplay between guitars and percussion.

Vocally too, Hart pitches perfectly to voice his songs’ contents, with a fine range and soulful edge, ideal in articulating the emotions of ‘Father’ and ‘Poison Envy’.

One tiny note of criticism, though - black type on an azure blue background renders it very hard to read much of the sleeve information, but this is only a slight distraction from a well-balanced collection, displaying maturity and no little inventiveness.

Date added: May 31, 2016

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