A rich and stylistically certain take on the peaks and troughs of the past couple of years that imparts a feeling of hope that lingers.
“Come bring it in brothers should you need it / I got you new rhythm for your spirits / Our world been getting wilder by the minute / But change is on the breeze / Horsepower for the streets,” opens Jonathan Jeremiah on the eponymous first track of his fifth studio album ‘Horsepower for the Streets’. It’s a call to arms for positivity, something we are all surely in need of after a difficult couple of years, but don’t expect this to be an album that looks only on the brighter side of things; no, this record is a journey that seeks to chronicle the times we have been living in all their mixed up glory.
“From my window, from my isolation / I look out at the world for our freedom to come,” Jeremiah sings breezily on ‘You Make Me Feel This Way’ as he longs for freedom from lockdown life. On the slinky ‘Cut a Black Diamond’, he tries to curb the nagging feeling that he’s missing out on something better, the background vocals an interesting representation of the metaphorical devil in his own head taunting him with what he could have. On the smooth ‘Restless Heart’, he faces a similar problem, his ever soulful voice against high harmonies as he laments the desire to always look for someone different.
‘The Rope’ sees Jeremiah exhausted by the demands of day-to-day living that never seem to be satiated (“I gotta get up / I can’t sleep in late / Darlings to teach / I got rent to pay / I’m running outta answers / All I know / I’m running outta money / And I’m running outta rope”). ‘Youngblood’ is a blast of retro blue eyed soul with a swinging beat, while the mellow ‘Ten storey-Falling’ sees Jeremiah feeling doubtful about the state of a relationship. On ‘Early Warning Sign’, his voice is showcased beautifully against a soaring piano. “We got an early warning sign / I have to say I love you now / Have I been waiting for the world to end / To say what I always knew?” he sings as the whole thing builds to a spectacular crescendo.
Jeremiah’s style is so well realised that it instantly makes the listener sit up and take note. The songs are bathed in strings with burnished vocals and soulful harmonies. This is a musician sure of who he is and not in the least bit afraid to express that; he’s almost bombastic at times, but somehow without a hint of arrogance.
On the final track, ‘Sirens in the Silence’, Jeremiah tries to offer comfort to a loved one who is struggling with the difficult realities they’ve had to face. It’s a nice piece of bookending with the opening track, both reflecting how in these dark times we have at least been able to rely on each other. “Oh my darling heart, it’s tough to drive them out / All them sirens in the silence, when they’re echoing around / Sure as I love you every day, I’ll remind you every night / Everything is gonna be alright,” he warbles, and if this album is any indication of the human condition, I think everything may just be alright after all.