One Track Mind: Jonus Preston, “Heaven to Hell” (2013)

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New York-based singer-songwriter Jonus Preston combines the stark fragility of Jeff Buckley with the anthemic qualities of Coldplay on a song that utterly captures the disorienting rush of falling in love.

As Preston moves from a crunchy riff into a lyric of strange but inviting imagery, “Heaven to Hell” becomes this labyrinth of delirious, often asymmetrical outbursts — and that joy, as unfettered as it is real, becomes utterly contagious.

Taking a break from the more socially aware songs that have been Preston’s bailiwick since switching from jazz in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, “Heaven to Hell” looks inward without becoming too precious, extrolls the positives of being end-over-end for someone without resorting to the obvious or the sickly sweet.

Preston’s first post-Sandy Hook effort, the haunting “Tears in Vain,” was a fundraiser for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. But, in its own way, “Heaven to Hell” is as much as triumph of controlled writing as anything with a more political tack — if only because these kind of songs so often slide off into the treacly. As he continues to leave behind the brainy world of music theory, Preston’s deeply emotional explorations are becoming ever more resonant.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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