What exceeds the work of John and Yoko? That of Sean and Yuka. Displaying talents of his own and stepping off the coattails of his father, Sean is downplaying the fact that he’s John Lennon’s son and shows songwriting skills that are as impressive as those of the former Beatle. Critics may rush to compare father and son, but they’ll let Sean’s talent slip by as they occupy themselves with a search for comparisons. Though there are a few similarities, Sean tends to venture into a more experimental realm with horns and eerie electronics. The result is an album that floats in a mysterious spacey/oceanic mix of heartfelt love songs.
The first aspect about Into the Sun is the acquired taste needed for Lennon’s unique vocals. Sean’s youthful and innocent vocals parallel the beauty of the reverbed keys and underwater sounds found throughout the album. Many of the songs are folk songs that evolved to contain an acoustic guitar backed up by an organ. It gives the tunes an aquatic or spaced-out feel (“Mystery Juice,” “One Night,” “Bathtub”).
Yuka’s soft vocals also accompany Sean on a few of the tracks such as “Into the Sun” and “Two Fine Lovers.” Each track embraces simple lyrics inspired and written for Yuka, making for a luscious album of love songs. Definitely a springtime LP, Into the Sun was recorded for those “head over heels” in a relationship, as well as those that just appreciate sincere, intellectual songwriting.
Sean’s love of jazz is also evident on the album. “Photosynthesis” and “Sean’s Theme” engage in free, smooth jazz. “Photosynthesis” begins structurally like most of the songs and then switches into a Latin avant garde in which Dave Douglas’ trumpet compares to Dizzy Gillespie in his Latin years and EJ Rodriguez supplies the Latin percussion. Douglas also pops up on “Sean’s Theme,” but is heard playing softer in a Miles Davis-esque technique over a smooth bass riff supplied by Sean. The thick texture of the jazz increases the emotion encountered throughout the piece.
Eric Wood provides the robot electronics on “Spaceship,” which reflects its name with the Atari-like notes at the beginning of the first riff. During “Two Fine Lovers,” Sean uses electronics again, this time using an almost R&B effect commonly found in rap music (don’t worry, it definitely works here). The keyboards and organs found throughout the album assist or even create the soothing flow of each track and blend nicely with Sean’s acoustic guitar. Lennon’s sophomore effort is expected to be as or more experimental compared to Into the Sun and should be released in the near future. Until then, he can also be found playing bass for Yuka’s band Cibo Matto.
Written by Nolan Shigley.