by Aaron Gidney
September 25th 2021 marked the 10 year anniversary of Jon Gomm’s breakthrough album, ‘Secrets Nobody Keeps’. Those of you who don’t know Jon, he is a Yorkshire-based virtuoso solo acoustic guitarist who crafts fascinating song arrangements using a variety of tricks and techniques such as bizarre tunings, tapping, percussive acoustic guitar whilst balancing beautiful melodies and basslines – all at the same time. He also sings to boot. Talented man.
The standout track from the original album was ‘Passionflower’ which gained Jon cult-like status amongst guitarists and non-guitarists alike and KScope have reissued the album with an updated version of the song as bonus track.
The timing of the release also co-incides with Jon’s new signature acoustic with Ibanez – the JBG10 which will set you back a mere £2,499…
The album consists of eleven tracks including the bonus track and features eight originals plus two fantastic covers of Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain’t Nobody’ and The Police’s ‘Message in a Bottle’. Gomm’s Chaka Khan cover incidentally was re-covered (or post-collaborated on) by Tesseract’s Daniel Tompkins a few years ago – who added his vocals in as a unique take of a cover of a cover. It resulted in Tompkins appearing with Gomm on the track at a gig in Nottingham at The Bodega in 2013 without any rehearsal together (or even meeting prior!). Unlike ‘Ain’t Nobody’, the Police cover has haunting vocals which adds a ‘desperation’ quality to the lyrics that were missing from even the original track.
There’s no doubt of Gomm’s masterful command of the guitar, coaxing all kinds of unusual sounds out of the instrument that perhaps can only come out of the mind of a genius. He has taken all of Tommy Emmanuel’s talent and upped the ante to bring percussive acoustic guitar to a whole new generation and wider audience.
You’ll perhaps wonder whether this guitar technique niche will only attract the guitar nerds amongst us, and you’d be partly right but there’s enough melody to make the tracks accessible to a wider audience. They may not understand the intricacies of the techniques used but it’s easy for the even the most casual of listeners to appreciate – the two covers of very popular and well-known songs are the easiest way in.
Passionflower is clearly the standout track upon which the album is build around. Opening with a gorgeously ethereal lydian mode (the scale that Steve Vai and Joe Satriani are so well-know for using). It’s a bright and uplifting piece with vocals that feels melancholic and engaging in equal measure.
It’s a fantastic release and I’m glad there is another opportunity for this lost classic to get another lease of life and potentially reach a wider audience that may have missed it the first time. With Jon a bit more in the public consciousness now, and with the added exposure of his Ibanez signature guitar deal, then this is the right time to reissue this album.
- Ain’t nobody
- There’s No Need To Be Afraid
- Wukan Motorcycle Kid
- Deep Cut
- Orville (The Secret of Learning To Fly Is Forgetting to Fall)
- Message In A Bottle
- Dance Of The Last Rhino
- Passionflower (Bonus 2020 version)