This was a really rare performance for Jonathan Scott of the Doleful Lions and quite an intimate one. If you are familiar with the work of the Doleful Lions, then you are aware of the beautiful harmonizing of Scott and Aynsley Pirtle on Out Like a Lamb or the fantastic guitar pedal effects throughout the six full lengths (Songs Cyclops Volume Two recently released.) Stripped down, the songs still contain weight, especially if you are even remotely familiar with them (and you should be because the albums are fantastic and vary between personal and spiritual to sunny Brian Wilson-esque arrangements)
Jonathan Scott has a real innocence to him that is unassuming and modest. At the same time, his vocals are so sugary it almost sounds as if he is singing into a special microphone that distorts while it projects. The lyrics themselves also contain a vast variety. For example, on Out Like a Lamb, “Saturday Mansions” is quite a bit more carefree and pop oriented than the Biblical-based “Dear Lazarus,” posing the heavy question 'Were you grateful when he rolled the stone away or had the stench of days swallowed your will to live again?' Jonathan didn’t play this song unfortunately, but he did play another of my favorites, “Surfside Motel,” which contains the lyric, '...don’t you know it was the government stopped Beach Boys from releasing Smile.' Another highlight included a cover by The Crystals', “There’s No Other Like My Baby,” as well as the imagery-laden “Graveyard of Swallows.”
It would be interesting to hear him play in the future fully plugged-in, using some of the pedal effects for example found on The Rats are Coming The Wolves are Here!, of which he played the title track from. I’d also really like to hear a full band set for songs like “Destroyers of the West” on Shaded Lodge on Mausoleum. On the other hand, a song he didn’t play from this album that would have lent itself easily to the more acoustic style of the evening is “The Ghost that Haunts Your World Will Disappear.” On a similar note, “Slip Inside This Gateway,” a really fragile acoustic song on this album, would also come off well in this style.
Whether he plays acoustic or plugged-in, by himself or with a backup band, there isn’t really any one else like Jonathan Scott. While he was without the others in his band on this night, the presence created both by his voice and the strength of the songwriting made seeing him well worthwhile.
Download: Doleful Lions - "Dear Lazarus"