This next band is fronted by a man that I have tremendous respect for. Through all the hardships he has faced in his life, he was still able to pick himself up and continue doing what he loves. My wife and I have seen him live only once, but he blew us away, putting on one of the most amazing vocal performances we have ever seen. Fronting his new band Slaves, Jonny Craig has yet again shown those who support him and those who hate him that he is not going anywhere.
Slaves is a four-piece band from Sacramento, CA. The band consists of lead singer Jonny Craig, Alex Lyman on lead guitar, Christopher Kim on rhythm guitar/percussion, and Tai Wright on drums/percussion. Slaves also uses many guest musicians on this album, including Tyler Carter, Natalie Craig, Kyle Lucas, and Vic Fuentes from Pierce the Veil. The band definitely falls into the category of post-hardcore, as each member of the band has history in the genre. Besides the obvious genre, though, their newest album “Through Art We Are All Equals” also falls into a more experimental and perhaps progressive rock genre.
Lyman, Kim, and Wright collectively do an awesome job on this record. They provide a perfect instrumental section to back Craig’s vocals. I believe their style is comparable to material they have released in the past on their previous bands, but is much more experimental and expansive. Moments of metal and hardcore leak into the song, especially in the songs “The King and the Army That Stands Behind Him” and “The Upgrade Part II,” which contains some of the deepest and intense riffs on the entire album. Besides these harder songs are softer songs like “Those Who Stand For Nothing Fall For Everything” and “There Is Only One Goad and His Name Is Death,” using cleaner acoustic guitars to get the job done. The drum work Wright provides is very understated, using a barrage of bass pedals and floor toms to accentuate Craig’s vocals. I thoroughly enjoy listening to the instrumentals of this album.
When one purchases an album that has Jonny Craig on vocals, one can expect that Craig will steal the show. Jonny Craig never fails to amaze me with every album he produces, and “Through Art We Are All Equals” doesn’t disappoint. Using past experiences, Craig reaches into his soul and pours out his heart throughout this album. His vocal style is reminiscent of many greats, including Michael Jackson, Christina Aguilera, and many singers in soul music. By far my favorite vocal performances on this album are “Starving for Friends” and “The Young and Beyond Restless.” His range flutters around throughout every song, and is used more like an instrument than most other vocalists. What amazes me most about his voice is his ability to recreate his sound achieved in a studio while onstage. You cannot tell the difference when you see him live, and could be argued that he performs better when singing in front of his many fans.
Not only is Jonny Craig able to use his voice as an instrument, but also as a tool to produce some meaningful and profound lyrics. His lyrics are like an open diary as he spills out the pain and love he has experienced throughout his life. My favorite song off the album contains the theme of apology and closure, being the song “Starving for Friends.” Perfectly inserted is his friend Vic Fuentes, who sings on this song, and who has had a difficult past with Jonny Craig. The lyrics in the song’s chorus is a heartfelt apology to his friends of the past:
“Don’t make me wait for a falling star / I’ve been afraid that the blood in my heart / Won’t sing for me a melody that’s ours / Drown me in the rain, I’d swim and sink for you / You were the only, you were the only saving grace I ever had / You were the only, you were the only saving grace I ever had” (source)
An in depth interview with Jonny Craig reveals the production and thoughts he had in making this album, and can be seen here.
I highly recommend this album to anyone looking for a breathtaking vocal performance and meaningful lyrics. Fans of Tides of Man, Emarosa, Pierce the Veil, Dance Gavin Dance, and other post-hardcore bands will also like this album. To those who might have given up on Jonny, I sincerely hope you listen to this album and hear the beautiful voice and lyrics. We have all made mistakes in the past, and this album is proof that we can recover. Please support Slaves’ “Through Art We Are All Equals” through the many music sites to purchase this album, and please support them as they travel through North America on tour.