Weekendson is the artistic moniker of Jon Thor, a rock/pop singer and songwriter hailing from Iceland. He works as a sound technician for an Icelandic national broadcasting service, but in his spare time he has devoted himself to his love of writing and recording music. The result is this eponymous debut album which consists of ten tracks, all written and vocally performed by himself.
The album starts out strongly with the five minute long mid-paced pop/rock song Dark, which brought to mind the beautiful melancholy of Wish You Were Here-era Pink Floyd. Starting out with echo-drenched Dave Gilmour-esque lead guitar, the drums break into a solid, meaty beat augmented by strummed acoustic guitars. As it builds to a stately, memorable chorus set to soaring synth strings you realize you are in the hands of a fine songwriter.
Weekendson has a unique and distinctive voice in part to due to his Icelandic accent, but he has a rich tone that serves his material. Halfway through the track it becomes noticeably heavier, with crunching electric guitar chords setting the scene for a mellifluous guitar solo, which brings the track to a dramatic climax.
Second track Liar is much more up tempo with an infectious beat, harmonized lead guitars and funky, choppy rhythm guitars that drive the music forward. After a concise, succinct verse it bursts into an anthemic chorus with the vocals leaping up into a higher register, an effective contrast.
The lyrics are fiercely honest, with a frank admission to start with: “I got real big trouble but I’ve got myself to blame, this is not the first time I’m afraid…but now I’ve gone too far, saying I’m better than I am….”. Its this kind of self reflection and perspicacity that gives Weekendson’s songs a relatable humanity and warmth. A great track.
Syncless brings back the Pink Floyd guitar style for this reflective epic ballad that really shows the melodic side to his songwriting. It features some gorgeous harmonies on the understated but highly effective chorus and, as with the previous song, he’s keenly aware of his flaws as a person (“I know I’m not perfect….”). Towards the end, the music becomes truly epic with some unexpected chord progressions keeping you captivated.
Easily Alone is another superbly written rock song that grabs you from the outset with a gritty guitar melody and a surging beat. As has now become familiar, he wears his heart on his sleeve with some moving and vulnerable confessions: “I don’t like where I am from, I don’t like what I’ve become, I don’t wanna stay alive but I don’t really wanna die…..”. Three are sentiments that most of us can relate to at some point in our lives and he goes on to deliver one of the album’s strongest choruses, followed by an excellent section features stacked guitars and a well-crafted vocal arrangement.
The fifth and six songs, Hero and My Friend, consolidate what is essentially Weekendson’s signature sound; uplifting, vibrant power-pop based around captivating chord structures and decorated with rich vocal harmonies. In the latter case, the music is further augmented with skyscraping strings on the already soaring chorus. Both contain superb musical arrangements full of detail that means the ear always picks up something new with repeated listens.
Seventh track True Love is a little bit different, a highly romantic ballad performed as a duet with a fine female vocalist. Over a lovely acoustic guitar-based chord progression Weekendson bares his heart to his lover with customary directness. After a heartwarming chorus full of lush harmonies from both vocalists, his female guest star takes the lead for the second verse. Her voice is a nice counterpoint to his more masculine tones and their combined vocal blend works perfectly.
Broken is perhaps the darkest song on the album, emotionally. It finds Weekendson at a distinctly low ebb, expressed with a poignant minor chord progression and some saturnine lyrics: “I scream to comfort myself….it’s probably raining out there“. The female sung refrain, “Raining, raining…” during the post-chorus is very effecting, painting a bleak picture of his emotional state. There’s no letting up in the second verse either: “No light in here, my soul is black…no second chance, I would take it all back…”. A powerful, moving song and an artistically brave one to write.
The high emotion continues with the string-laden acoustic ballad The Father. It’s about going through a difficult period with one of his children: “The phone is silent and it’s breaking my heart...”. The anguished chorus ramps up the poignancy even more: “I was the one who taught you how to live, I was the one you used to call in need….”. With it’s beautifully written string arrangement, this deeply affecting song will move even the hardest heart.
The album ends on a high note, however, with another song dedicated to a child, Daughter Dearest. This one returns to his uplifting high-energy pop/rock sound and the words reflect this sunnier sound: “Now, I am a better person, all because of you….”. It’s a genuinely touching expression of parental love and sums up the album’s emotional journey of love and positivity conquering over life’s many dark moments. A great way to finish.
Overall, this is a very strong collection of pop/rock songs that proves Weekendson deserves to be recognized worldwide as a very fine songwriter who has honed his craft over many years. His songs are emotive and relatable, running the gamut of life’s vicissitudes with honesty and truth and composed with a natural flair for melody. Who knows, with enough exposure he could build a big enough fan base to make music his full time living, and that scenario would be richly deserved.
VERDICT = 9 out of 10