What is the difference between an ARTIST and a PAINTER? Well, to me, a painter uses their tools to paint another’s vision and reflects the exact interpretation of that person’s point of view, while an artist illustrates their own vision and leaves the interpretation up to the inner muse of another.
Also, when an artist paints a picture, there’s a concept behind by said picture that will translate an emotion. Some way, somehow, a reaction will take place in the body of the viewer, and it doesn’t have to involve all five senses to play a role in that translation. It can be just the sight of something produced by the artist that leaves an effect, or a touch, or a sound, because a true artist knows how to evoke a reaction by building layers of interest.
Jon Magnusson has accomplished that feat with “This Is All It Takes - an instrumental EP that truly orchestrates your emotions with five songs:
- April Sun
- Stockholm Noir
- This is All it Takes
- For Whatever It’s Worth
- Visa från Utanmyra
There are no words to explain a storyline, but each track’s music clearly presents a story of their own that support’s the song’s title, all the while totally reflecting a threading theme that supports the EP’s title – that in life, sometimes, one thing could be all that it takes to get the full perspective of life. This is my interpretation of the EP’s five songs.
The opening track, “April Sun” has a nice conceptual feel to it with its Psychedelic Jazz instrumentation. When you read the title of the track, you assume it is inspired by the sun in April, and it very much could be as this track does not have lyrics. But when you think of the artist behind this composition, Jon Magnusson, trust me, it goes deeper than that. This track could possibly personify the human condition and how we make ourselves over after something in life alters our trajectory in the same way that the sky appears with that first glimpse of sun peaking through in April as the last bit of chill goes away. The way the music enters slowly and then ambles throughout the entire piece up to the outro where the song ends with the pulse sounding guitar riff, this song is more than just about the sun in April. Musically speaking, this instrumental track aids the listener in reflecting on life in general.
Moving on to “Stockholm Noir,” we have a Progressive Classical track and get to feel the pessimism, the bleakness, in the track with the sole piano. In contrast, the hints of hope are felt with the higher notes of the piano. This balance of black notes and high notes depicting the light and dark areas of life is demonstrated beautifully here in this musical metaphor. Those parts of living where we must bow to its power or rise above it in victory.
And with the title track, we’ve hit the summit of this musical mountain with a Progressive Rock song that alludes to what I spoke of in the introduction – how usually it takes just one thing to gain a full perspective and see that “This is All it Takes.” For example, it takes one word to start a conversation or end an argument. And musically, Magnusson has built layers of instrumentation to get your mind going in such a way that you truly begin to reflect. You take the title literally to heart and begin to reflect on different facets of your life – the abstract and the tangible. All achieved with music only – an organ, keys, guitar, cymbals, and bass. Awesome!
The fourth track, “For Whatever It’s Worth,” features a House Jazz vibe with the wide-sounding instrumentation of bass, guitar, and cymbals. And, I just adored the demanding flair of the piano playing which gave off an exuberance of even the piano having an opinion. The melody gives off that blasé faire conviction of ‘it is what it is’ – that nonchalant carefreeness that we all should aspire to achieve.
The melody that was constructed for the final track, “Visa från Utanmyra,” is extremely beautiful. An instrumental homage to a traditional Swedish Folk song is perfectly composed. When the track starts, that bass just splits your soul and then those fluttering guitars paste you back together again. It’s the ebbing melody of this track that is just spot-on passion. This Modern Folk-Rock track is alluringly seductive and beacons a road less traveled and instrumentally expresses a need to just exist.
To suit the mood and to fit the direction of the EP, Jon chose to keep the EP boundless when it comes to a specific genre, thus reflecting that “push the envelope” vibe he always aims for and attains.
If ever there was a creative mind behind modern tracks, it would be Jon Magnusson; and, his newest EP “This is All it Takes” does not disappoint. Very poignantly, it’s all here – a kaleidoscopic collection of mind-blowing instrumental music that infuses a craving to seek passion, understand perplexity, and reflect personal perception all without uttering a single word.