Jonathan Winstead - Lovestry (2012)

Jonathan Winstead
Jonathon Winstead Lovestry.jpg
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Despite his obvious youthfulness, Jonathan Winstead’s approach to the music hustle is straight-up old school: not only does he have production, arrangement and songwriting acumen, his vocals are airy, elastic and undeniably expressive, and that potent combination is what’s thoroughly explored on his second and latest effort, Lovestry.

Despite his obvious youthfulness, Jonathan Winstead’s approach to the music hustle is straight-up old school: not only does he have production, arrangement and songwriting acumen, his vocals are airy, elastic and undeniably expressive, and that potent combination is what’s thoroughly explored on his second and latest effort, Lovestry.

If Mr. Winstead’s never registered on your radar until now, chances are you’re not a part of the Nashville music scene, where he’s rooted and recognized as an in-demand independent artist, lauded for his steeze behind the board and on the mic (he’s the recipient of a 2009 Gospel Music City Award and took home Best R&B Performance from his city’s Independent Music Award last year) as he builds his local and national fan base ( he's even opened for the likes of Raheem DeVaughn and Lalah Hathaway). Lovestry isn’t as succinct or as urban-flavored as his debut, 2010’s Mystery of a Man, but it does expand his raunch-free and narrative method of musicianship while adding a jazzy aftertaste.

Titled with a term coined to describe the emotions and chemical attraction at work in relationships, Lovestry doesn’t try to break new ground, but it does help Mr. Winstead to leave his indelible mark in the well-worn landscape of soul. The up tempos are where he makes the most use of his tenor, since they allow that croon to stretch and soar: the bass-laden “SexyLadyLove” purrs and percolates about a burgeoning attraction that he’s eager to delve into, and “So Good” breaks down why their love is as healthy as it is, well, hot, and ends with a falsetto flourish that some of his peers would kill to replicate: “But when you care, and they’re hurtin’ you so bad, that ain’t love/ but when that someone is willing to do anything for your happiness, that’s love; that’s how you make me feel….”

“Back Again” glides into a confession of wrongdoing and begs for forgiveness so tenderly that it adds new dimensions of sincerity: “You can do a private investigation of your own,” he sings in a tone so low-key that it practically feels subliminal; “you can check my e-mails or even go through my phone, here’s the reason….”

The slower songs are just as well-written and arranged, even though they tend to overlap without clear borders and mimic too closely from one sentiment to the next: “Easier” is so seamlessly sung that it’s hard to believe that he delivered it live, and “Wake Up,” a ‘coveting another man’s woman’ lament, feels like it could’ve been lifted from a 70s era Stylistics album with its lush and gliding groove.

If it had culled a few of the tracks away for the next set or sequenced them differently to increase texture, the CD wouldn’t feel so languorous or uneven. But even with those flaws, Mr. Winstead’s Lovestry sounds just the way its creator looks on the cover: winsome and irresistible. Warmly Recommended.

By Melody Charles

 


 

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