Review: Jonah Tolchin Gets Into His Flow on New Album, 'Lava Lamp'

2022-09-24 03:05:26 By : wholly hu

by Lee Zimmerman August 28, 2022, 9:15 am

Jonah Tolchin Lava Lamp (Yep Roc) 3.5 stars out of 5

With his fifth studio album Lava Lamp, Jonah Tolchin comes out swinging, sharing a solid wallop, a cocksure attitude, and an assured confidence that brings to mind Jack White in particular. The songs signal a sound that blends irreverence and insurgence in equal measure, all while making it clear he’s content to follow his own muse, damn anyone’s expectations. 

“Never Giving Up,” with its corralled harmonies, drive, and dexterity sums up that stance, but that determined delivery echoes through practically every other track as well. 

When I watch my lava lamp I don’t want to feel a fucking thing, he declares via the recurring refrain of the title track, giving focus to indifference while also assuring his own independence.   Tolchin’s dedication to escapism is evident elsewhere as well, whether it finds him confessing that his attraction to a would-be partner is strictly based on her means of transportation (“Car You Drive”) or putting distance between his homeland while in search of love (“Oklahoma”). The robust rhythms give each offering a distinct dynamic and sonic surge that maintains the energy and intensity at full throttle throughout, while Tolchin shrugs off any need to bring outsiders into his fold.

You know who I am, don’t treat me like I’m someone else,  he declares on the Tom Petty cover, “Grew Up Fast,” a song that seems to capture those sentiments succinctly. 

Co-produced with multi-instrumentalist/engineer Nic Coolidge, Lava Lamp also finds Tolchin working with a stripped-down band that features Coolidge on bass and Kevin Clifford on drums. Even so, the modest instrumentation doesn’t negate any attitude or approach but instead brings a punk-like fervor to the album overall. The plodding “Bridge” proves to be the exception, but the upbeat and aggressive “Wooden Leg,” the song that follows and serves as a fiery end to the album, more than makes up for any lull or lag.

Granted, Lava Lamp may not be for everyone, but as a coming out of sorts, it serves Tolchin’s prime purpose.

Photo credit: Joe Del Tufo

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