In August, Jonnie Common released Master of None, his debut solo album. I was massively proud when he asked if I would provide some drawings (one old, one new) for the artwork. If this sounds familiar, I briefly wrote about this project back in July - it's worth revisiting in a little more depth with some new photos, though.
From my side, it was a fairly painless process. I sent over my Dog drawing and put together a big, furry pattern for the inner sleeve. JC then added some rockin' pink magic and handled the layout. The end result is a really great wee collaboration - something completely new and different to what we'd think up individually.
I first started talking with Jonnie a while back after I made a little music video for Infinitea by Down The Tiny Steps (his old band). I did this on a whim to accompany a blog post announcing it as my 4th most listened to track of 2009. By happenstance, Jonnie also knew my work and we began chatting about maybe collaborating on something or other. This was a weird thing because I was a fan, y'know? I'd been listening to his stuff for damn near 10 years and I'd seen plenty DTTS / solo sets at various Fence gigs. How many dudes who live on your iPod do you get emails from? Aye, exactly.
Anyway, Jonnie's a good dude. I've since caught up with him a handful of times in person and we're hoping to work together on a couple different projects over the next few months. Stay tuned here or on jonniecommon.com for further news and information.
As for Master of None, it's my favourite album of the year by a long way. I really, really love it. Honestly, it's amazing. I kinda wish my artwork wasn't on the cover so I could sound completely genuine when I gush about it to my friends. I also kinda wish I didn't know Jonnie so I could act like a totally lame super-fan without being, um, a total creep. Alex says it's her go-to record 'it feels like having a conversation with a friend' and it's a rare day that we don't either give it a spin or find a track or two sneak into a playlist.
Without writing a flat-out review (there's a great one up here on Song By Toad), I'd just like to recommend you give Master of None a listen. It's a sweet, funny, charming album that can effortlessly drift from a beautiful letter to his future kids (Heir To The Throne) to a wordplay-fuelled rap (Bed Bugs) without missing a step. Jonnie's distinctive voice (in both senses of the word) somehow creates a personal, cohesive whole from a big ol' mountain of sounds and styles.
And, man, the man has a way with a lyric - I'd happily write out Hand-Hand in its entirety just for fun. There's more ideas in those 4 minutes than in most full length LPs. Highlights: opening with "sing for us, Jonnie!", facing mortality "when I leave this planet, I don't wanna leave a mess" and a curiosity about horse-hair brushes: "do they pluck them from the living ones or do they take them off the corpses?". It'll put a smile on your face and a shake in your arse. Listen to it, learn it, sing along:
Good eh? As I mentioned, being associated with this LP in any way makes me very proud. For any artist, designer or illustrator, providing artwork for music you love is a dream job that can't easily be beaten? I mean, what else comes close? Film posters? Maybe, I dunno. Oh yeah, I've put a few more photos of the vinyl cover up on my Flickr page.
So, should you want to check out Master of None for yourself, it is available on vinyl (with an mp3 code included) through Red Deer Club records. You can also download a digital copy over on Boomkat and, should you want to try-before-you-buy, you can stream the whole record (!) right here on Soundcloud.
Support Jonnie Common, he's one of Scotland's finest songwriters and he's made a wonderful thing.