Still Life is the new EP from Oxford-based folk pop duo Jon Sandman and Abbie Loosemore, collectively known as Jon & Abbie.
By Graeme Smith
It’s an EP for the broken-hearted. Written after the end of a long-term relationship, against a backdrop of grief and loss that has come from the last year of pandemic, it’s perhaps not the best music to shake off the Monday blues. Yet, if you’re looking for something to help you get through some personal grief, or you’re a fan of music infused with authentic emotion, then Still Life is a collection of tracks from which you’ll get a lot.
The folksy Could’ve Been U opens proceedings, setting the tone before giving way to the lightly electronic, percussive change of pace – the title track Still Life. The transition makes it clear that the EP is not about a particular sound, but more a vehicle for emotion – for a story that needed to be told.
Though Jon provides the bulk of the vocals across the EP, Abbie is the lyricist. Jon’s vocals are beautifully delicate and compelling but I think it’s Abbie’s lyrics that really caught my attention. There are some many beautiful moments and details across the five tracks. 44 Days references dead plants as an analogue to expired love. Marmalade feels Ulysses-like in its journey through an average day where the mundane barely hides a deeper feeling.
The final track The River was written by Abbie about her grandfather who sadly passed away last year. Its melancholic understatement adds an extra level of poignancy to the EP’s theme. Over six minutes it rises and falls between cinematic climaxes and introspective interludes rich with attention to detail in the lyrics.
Still Life is the first EP that Jon & Abbie have put out. Having been friends for a long time, they wanted to make music together for a long time but couldn’t make it happen. If there is any silver lining to last year’s pandemic lockdown is that they have finally done it and we’ve been gifted this beautiful five-track collection. Let’s hope it’s not the end of their music together.