Previously better known for his analogue electronic music productions as ‘Automatic Tasty’, Jonny Dillon’s debut acoustic LP ‘Songs For A One-String Guitar’ took the listening public by surprise and the critics by storm when it dropped out of the blue on All-City in 2019. It represented a departure for an artist who was renowned for having the Midas touch when it came to coaxing dance floor fire from all manner of hardware. But fortune favours the brave and temporarily setting the machinery aside and following an acoustic path to the waterfall has already reaped rich rewards for Jonny Dillon. He’ll never say it in so many words but here’s a man on a mission: “Fail as I may, I have to go back and try again every time, to wait in hope for a glimpse of the spirit that hovers over the face of the deep, and to keep watch for the Light that shines in the darkness.”
The generosity of spirit which is the linchpin of all great music is something that can neither be cheaply conjured nor ever easily faked, god forbid. It’s the elusive emotional conductor in the spinal cord of sound - a foundational component of that mysterious feeling of connection we as listeners are seeking every time we put the needle on the record or press play on a song. The very essence of the thing we seek, in short. The holy grail.
When sweet music hits, it’s the spirit that moves us and it’s both the source of the power within it as well as ultimately the place where it resides inside of us too, once heard. This is how music works. Journeying. Spirit to spirit. From the makers and dreamers of the dream to dreamers in general. The indomitable spirit inherent in the instrumental guitar compositions and distinctive finger picking style of Jonny Dillon is a case in point. This is spiritful music of a rarer kind made by an artist as inherently attuned to the troubling times we are living through as he is to the value of carving out new paths to the waterfall through the medium of sound on our behalf. Boom and there it is. Much needed guidance. A priceless new navigational tool of the imagination to help us all through the maze.
Just like the debut offering, this a path inherently worth following too, every step of the way. This time Jonny’s singular playing style finds true expression in a sound world expertly shaped by a master of the production craft, John ’Spud’ Murphy in Hellfire Studio. Masters at work, times two. Like all dream productions, it quickly assumes three dimensional proportions and becomes a place to go in and of itself, worth returning and retreating to, time and again. On A New Directive From The Bureau of Compulsory Entertaintment, his mode of expression is as clear and impactful as the immediate impression the sound makes on us. His is a strong game. He rises to the occasion and fulfils a great need on our part in so doing. We have to give thanks where it’s due. Balms for the soul are hardly two-a-penny in these challenging times but this is a timely one and of a lasting kind too. In stripping everything back and breaking his sound down into the bare component parts of reverberating steel strings on resonant wood, he has tapped into a kind of universal music of the spheres. It’s in tune with the times and more. Big picture sound with heart and soul to match. The iridescent sound he conjures from that same deep is a joyous thing to behold imbued as it is with a kind of light that never goes out. A dozen jewels adorn this timeless creation, each one a glimpse of eternity. They will shimmer forever. Man gets tired. Spirit don’t.
Dónal Dineen, January 2023.