Musicians and songwriters of this decade have often delved into the wary depths of a little treasure trove known as 80s pop culture in search of inspiration and muse. But there isn’t much material currently being put out that brings about the true nature of that era, unless you’re two girls who lived through that time and released an extended play that sounds like it was something from 30 years ago.
Singer-songwriter duo Jonnie & Joy’s new six-track EP title “Running Home” literally screams 80s pop rock with lead singer Joy Tolbert bringing an edgy female vocal timbre that drives their music in front of Jonnie Rockwell classic keyboard synth leads and pads. Together with renowned music producer Gary Katz (known for his work with Steely Dan, Diana Ross, Joe Cocker, etc.), they give us a nostalgic bunch of tunes that will definitely throw anyone from that era, back to that point in their lives.
Tracks like the synthpop tune “Never Gonna Cry” and the glam rock-ish “Lost Soul” really sound like they written in the 80s with Joy singing a very 80s pop-style melody in both songs, and the lyrical themes both sound like hit songs from that decade. The former brings out the best of the electronic synth revolution that stemmed from that era and the latter just gives me Def Leppard feels with a slightly similar vibe to Starship’s “We Built This City”.
“Hold Tight” also gives us a neat little perspective of the 80s keyboards with a simple yet stylistic progression and fill-ins in the song’s verses in between a passionate chorus where its gang vocals screams motivational lines about making it through the night.
The title track “Running Home” probably sounds the least 80s on the EP, sounding actually more like 70s classic hard rock, with a grittier guitar instrumentation backed by a steady drum beat. The bass and guitar riffs in unison work well here to drive this song about, well, running home.
And what would 80s pop music be without the glorified instrument of the saxophone? It gratefully makes an appearance in the blazing intro track “Night Stalker” which is, in all honesty, basically an upbeat rip-off of Iggy Pop’s “Nightclubbing” if you listen carefully. The hormone-inducing instrument also makes a soothing cameo in probably the easily overlooked track “Can You Hear Me” because of its slow pace. Joy’s vocal performance is decent but it’s the 2 solos here that steal the show. The nonchalant sax melody warms up the stage before the electric hits with the best guitar work in the entire EP.
“Running Home”, the EP, makes less for a revolutionary work from Jonnie & Joy but makes more for a personal journey for both of them to the times where they drew their influences from, and it’s probably safe to say they made this EP for themselves and anyone who wants to take a quick trip back to the 80s. (I wonder how many times “80s” has been mentioned in this review)