2014 Nola Baby Records
- Sous Tes Draps
- L’historie Se Repete
- Les Femmes De Ma Vie
- Sans m’Arreter
- Ma Guitare et Moi
- Je Te Retrouve Partout
- Mr. Oyster
- Wrecking Ball Moon
- Easy in Big Easy
REVIEW FROM OFFBEAT MAGAZINE, JUNE 2014
(Nola Baby Records)
A songwriter with a folkie’s approach who plays trad-jazz-flavored pop in acoustic as well as en français, Jon Roniger’s milieu is gypsy jazz in both form and function, though his approach is wholly modern and blessedly free of any hipster patina.
The groove is casual and elegant and just a little sexy on what appears to be his fifth album; that goes double for his voice, captivating enough to cross any language barriers with ease. (It helps that he keeps it simple with freshman-year French song titles such as “Les Femmes De Ma Vie,” “Ma Guitare et Moi,” and “L’Histoire Se Répète.”)
His own PR compares him to Tom Waits, Harry Connick, Jr. and Edith Piaf, but that almost does him a disservice; yes, he’s infatuated with the downtrodden, utilizes a lot of piano and seduces in French, but lots of local musicians do that. (Okay, maybe not all at once.)
There’s an original voice at work here, one less stylized than at least two of the above name drops; a song like “Sans M’Arrêter” (“Without Stopping,” probably), is sly and sophisticated without being too self-conscious, and the jazz base of these songs is upbeat without seeming studied, leaving room for lots of rhythmic improv while keeping the trumpet and piano out front in the best local tradition.
Best of all, when he switches to English for the last three songs of Gypsyland, Roniger reveals enough wit to describe a “Wrecking Ball Moon” as a naked lover and a “ten-ton gypsy mowing down hearts.” If you want a date-night cocktail of real NOLA flavors, fizzy and giddy enough to seduce whomever you’re giving the side eye to, spin them around to this.
It deftly sidesteps the hard sell.