Album Review: Jonny Carroll – ‘Leaving On The Light’

American singer-songwriter, Jonny Carroll has recently released his debut album, Leaving On The Light. Originally from Grand Rapids, Carroll has cemented his name in the music industry, with four nominations for the WYCE Jammie Awards back in 2014 for his debut EP, The Willow, alongside gaining major airplay across regional radio stations from the Midwest to the Atlantic. Over the past few years, Carroll has made his living by busking the streets of West Michigan whilst street performing and playing shows across England and Scotland. Carroll is described to sit somewhere between radio pop and contemplative folk, with his sound developing from his eclectic taste in experimental music extremes and his manic depressive send of creativity. Carroll is also set to embark on his United States national tour next month.

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Carroll’s debut album Leaving On The Light is filled with so much heartbreak and honest, personal emotions as he conveys genuine misery alongside a sense of optimism and positivity. Carroll shares, “Most of this album was written just after an abandoned wedding engagement, and I found myself wandering the streets of the UK for a couple of winter months trying to make sense of it. The songs are very pop in melody, but folk in narrative.” Prior to the release of his debut album, Carroll also shared a lyric video for the title track of the album. He explains that the track is about, “Wrestling with fragments of lingering hope for a relationship to somehow heals itself once disbanded, while at the same time trying to become the person you knew you should have been in it.” The track opens with bright instrumentals; however, you can immediately hear the sincerity in his vocals that is filled with so much personal emotions.

The seven-track album is a combination of catchy pop melodies and emotive lyrics, similar to folk song writing and perfectly conveys Carroll’s raw emotion in a way that is still upbeat enough to become a radio pop hit. One of the highlights from the album is When I’m Alive, which transforms from a delicate intro to a huge ballad, with upbeat percussion, bright harmonicas and lovely, folk melodies. Another track that stands apart from the rest is February, which is a more delicate, acoustic number, with Carroll’s airy, reflective vocals paired with gentle, poignant violins and soft guitars, creating something completely unique. His vocals immediately draw comparisons to English folk singer-songwriters, Passenger and Jamie Lawson who have broken into the mainstream world of music as they combine folk with radio pop, not too dissimilar to what Carroll has created on his debut record. Final track, Joshua is a perfect way to close the album, with Carroll’s vocals sitting somewhere between optimistic and melancholic, which I personally think represents the entire album. The composition of the album is a bit more experimental, with the track opening with a gentle acoustic guitar and a tapping that sounds like a hammer on some wood, before a stunning violin enters and really takes the forefront of the track.

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Jonny Carroll’s debut album, Leaving On The Light is a perfect depiction of staying hopeful despite the pains of heartbreak that comes with love. The album showcases Carroll’s song writing ability and his talent of combining pop vocals with folk instrumentals. Personally, I believe this is only the beginning of Jonny Carroll and it will only be time before he makes it big.

You can purchase Jonny Carroll’s debut album, Leaving On The Light on iTunes