For a couple years now, Sony has been releasing what they call "CONNECT Sets" - exclusive, digital-only-release EP's featuring live, oftentimes acoustic recording sessions. Most artists to get the stripped-down treatment don't have to change their songs all that much from the originals, however, when hearing a name like Jonezetta and the word "acoustic" paired up, more than just a few eyebrows are likely to be raised.
For Jonezetta's 2006 debut, Popularity, the band was introduced as the latest in dance rock, offering a benign alternative to the mainstream's offerings. The danceable production sounds of Popularity obviously can't carry through on an acoustic approach, so how could it possibly translate well? A quick glance at the tracks tackled on their CONNECT Sets EP will reveal that most of the songs selected were either near-ballads or more melodic in nature, with the exception of their biggest hit and most recognizable song, "Get Ready (Hot Machete)."
The EP opens with "Imagination," which originally served as the closer for Popularity. Here, the track trades in its lively beat and vibrant guitar for a pensive and delicate piano melody. Without the production quality of the debut here, the vocal talents of Robert Chisolm really become prominent as the music relies more heavily on vocal quality and mood here than ever before. "The Love That Carries Me" maintains the fun tone of its original, merely presented with a piano and acoustic while "Communicate" feels more like a lament now, being slowed down considerably as a piano ballad. The only track that really seems out of place and even unnatural is the acoustic attempt at "Get Ready (Hot Machete)." The original is such a bold and infectious treat that to hear it stripped of what makes it so much fun in the first place just robs it of any real energy. The song screams to be plugged in and fired up. The EP closes with a lovely take on "The City We Live In" for a fine and redeemable finish.
For four out of the five acoustic tracks on Jonezetta's CONNECT Sets, the band has selected the songs from their debut that would best fit this kind of format and the end result is wonderful. While the lyrical substance that was light on their debut remains the same here (sadly, there's really no spiritual content at all), Jonezetta displays their musical depth with the simplicity through balladry here. Diehard fans of the band will enjoy this appetizer while waiting for new music from the band, while those who may not have enjoyed the band's debut may enjoy these piano and acoustic takes instead.- Review date: 1/7/08, written by John DiBiase
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