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Jon Allen Jon Allen
Album: Blue Flame
Label: Monologue
Tracks: 11
Website: http://www.jonallensongs.co.uk

Discovered by Mark Knopfler, championed by Jools Holland, his song Going Home appeared on a Land Rover advert and he found himself following Beyoncé on the BBC's coverage of Glastonbury a few years ago, things have gone pretty well thus far for Winchester singer songwriter Jon Allen. He's made his name with three albums of lived-in folk-flavoured troubadour sounds that smack of authentic experiences, real sounds and honest-to-goodness working practices.

When his side project, The Third Degree, took recent pop songs by female singers and retooled them to sound like lost sixties soul classics it brought him to the attention of Marshall Chess whose father Marshall and uncle Phil had founded the legendary R&B record label. Marshall wanted The Third Degree on his own label and Jon Allen's connection to soul music was complete.

Blue Flame is his fourth album but the first to fully explore the avenues and alleyways of classic soul, from the slick mid tempo opener Jonah's Whale - complete with a classic early Motown trombone rasp in the brass section - through the sweet funk back seat of Keep On Walking, to the tidy soul shuffle of Stay, complete with a delicious horn riff retooled from Barbara Acklin's Am I the Same Girl?

It's Just the End of the World gives the apocalypse a full-on soul soundtrack, Waking Dream adds a dark almost psychedelic edge, Hold You in My Heart is pure romance and the title track closes the record with a jazzy inflection, but perhaps the heart of the set is found in Better Day with its plaintive acoustic guitar and piano providing the perfect backdrop to the album's best vocal performance.

Nick Churchill
www.nickchurchill.org.uk