Jon Bellion’s massive “Glory Sound Prep Tour” will include his biggest hometown show yet when he plays Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater on Sat, Aug. 10.
The Lake Grove native, whose new “Glory Sound Prep” album was released last week and is expected to debut in the Top 15, thanked fans and announced his tour plans on Twitter. “I’m so excited to do the live arrangements for these records!!!!” he tweeted. “Your guys support truly gives me freedom to work and create how I see fit!” Jon Bellion declares his intentions at the start of his new “Glory Sound Prep” (Capitol) album:
“I don’t want to be some digital Jesus,” he sings in “Conversations with My Wife.” “No more followers. We’ll both get lost.”
It’s a theme the Lake Grove native returns to throughout the album, as he deals with the success that came from his Top 10 album “The Human Condition” from 2016, boosted by the hit “All Time Low.” Bellion, after all, has always been outspoken about how music should drive the music business and not the business driving the music.
“Was never focused on gettin’ bigger, just gettin’ better,” he sings in the well-crafted “Let’s Begin,” which features Roc Marciano, B. Keyz and Travis Mendes, as well as inspiration from RZA. “That’s why I keep getting’ bigger after every record.”
He is also known for injecting real life into the world of pop stars, revealing his personal worries when others would focus on maintaining their image. On the beautifully simple “Stupid Deep,” he wonders, “What if all the things I’ve done were just attempts at earning love? ‘Cause the hole inside my heart is stupid deep.”
Bellion also reveals that with new success comes unexpected problems. On “Adult Swim,” he, among many other things, rhymes about Beyoncé calling him to secure the song “Fall in Line” for her protégés Chloe x Halle, but Bellion had already offered the song to Christina Aguilera, who recorded it with Demi Lovato. “I hope I didn’t burn that bridge,” Bellion sings. “I worry all the time.”
(In that song, he also drops some Long Island rhymes, including the idea that he doesn’t want to be famous, adding “I’m still pushin’ the same whip I was driving in Sachem” and the promise “For the rest of my life, you’ll see me on the LI-double-R, with a Heineken in my bag on my way to The Garden.”) But Bellion’s skills are also expanding to meet the new challenges. He creates a stunning epic with the help of Quincy Jones in “Mah’s Joint.” The eight-minute suite tells of his mom’s struggles as a caretaker for her mom before morphing into a jazzy, horn-filled celebration and finally a synthesized serenity. He offers his mother the hope that “when she meets God, He’ll tell her all about it, when my mother was a mother to her mom.”
It’s a moving piece that shows how Bellion’s decision to focus on music and not all the trappings of fame will continue to pay off. “Glory Sound Prep” should keep Bellion on pop radio without compromising any of his artistry. Shortly after John Nolan was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame with his Taking Back Sunday bandmates at The Space at Westbury, they started jokingly giving him a hard time about his new solo album “Abendigo” (Collective Confusion).
“I heard a couple songs I thought we were going to do,” singer Adam Lazzara told Nolan.
“You didn’t seem interested,” Nolan responded with a smile. “You had to claim them.”
Though it is easy to see how the hard-charging, indie-rock “Over Before It Begins” could have become a Taking Back Sunday song, it takes a left turn into the sound of his band Straylight Run, with a gorgeous piano breakdown for the bridge before returning with wailing guitar and a howling Nolan that sounds as intense as ever thanks to producer Mike Sapone, who has helmed several Taking Back Sunday albums as well as this solo effort from the Baldwin native.
However, most of “Abendigo” finds Nolan following his other musical interests, the ones that don’t neatly fit into the Long Beach-based band’s sound.
There’s his nod to The Cure in the pop-leaning, yet gloriously gloomy “Outside of This Tragedy.” The first single “Do You Remember?” also takes on some darker atmospherics, with bits of Nine Inch Nails industrial noise that punctuate the angry lyrics about seeing tragedies repeat themselves. (“We brought this on ourselves,” Nolan demands. “Do you remember?”) And the piano ballad “Smiling and Alive” calls to mind the poignant ballads from Straylight Run’s debut album.
Though Taking Back Sunday is always looking to expand its sound, Nolan says it is pretty easy to determine which songs work better for his solo albums than for the band. “A lot of these songs are ideas I had that didn’t make the cut for the band,” says Nolan, who is currently in the middle of a solo tour. “They are ideas I pitched and didn’t get used. With the band, we’re all driven by a very similar desire to not let each other down. I’m doing these songs just for the enjoyment of it. There’s not a lot of pressure.”