'Sweet Defeat', the sophomore effort of Devon born singer-songwriter Jon Allen is a firm triumph of catchy pop and musical majesty. Allen adopts a cool, calm and sensual persona to his work and he is certainly in his element on the organ-soaked and melodic opener 'Joanna'. The song is warm and melodic offering the listener a pleasant introduction to Allen's brand of confident and assured acoustic strumming. Though away from his competent musicianship, Allen's gruff and unashamedly bluesy-vocal delivery sound like a cross between Bob Dylan and Rod Stewart. Indeed, the blues-enthused 'Sweet Defeat' does boast many similarities to Dylan circa 'Blonde on Blonde', which is certainly high praise but a testament to Allen's musical and lyrical genius.
As the album progresses, the poetic musings of 'Stealing Away' are unveiled, backed with a haunting piano melody that captures the ambience of the track. Big sing-along choruses are also a hallmark of Allen's work, just listen to 'Time To Cry' and its anthemic qualities; I defy you not to be wrapped in its infectious heart by the song's conclusion. Yet, it is the tender moments of 'Sweet Defeat' that are so endearing and arresting. The title track and 'Love's Made A Fool Out of Me' are sincere, passionate and exquisitely crafted songs of love and loss that are filled with lyrics so beautiful and a voice so heartfelt that listening can become both enthralling but extremely difficult.
Jon Allen is a force to be reckoned with. 'Sweet Defeat' is a brilliant second album that bleeds passion and melancholy, and is a record that makes you search your soul, makes you think and may even make you cry. The Devon troubadour has it all; a swift ear for melody, a talent for crafting gorgeous music and a knack for penning lyrics that will resonate with even the most cynical listener. Taking obvious influence from Bob Dylan, the pessimist and arrogant speaker of 'No One Gets Out of Here Alive' appears to channel Mr Zimmerman in 'Ballad of a Thin Man' with confidence, and why not? Jon Allen is a special talent. His music is elegant and evocative and his voice is hypnotic. Look and listen Britain, your new folk hero has arrived.