There are some things you cast doubt over even when the facts are presented to you. The facts may help resolve any hint of doubt. But, a little would still persist. That was exactly my sentiments when TV/Radio personality, Jon Germaine released his debut album ‘’This Is Who I Am’’ in 2009. The first time I heard the lead single ‘’In My Head’’ on radio, with him as the voice behind the record, I could not believe it. The video that came with the song did not entirely nail the coffin of doubt that I held. It took a while for me to accept the fact that Jon St. Germain was indeed an artist.
“This Is Who I Am” was a blend of pop, RnB and rock influences with love- its gifts and curses- as major themes. Jon Germain’s album was a cathartic trip as illustrated by the tales the songs evoked. The release of the album was Jon realizing one of his life goals. He also made a case for pop-rock within the Ghanaian music space. His association with music did not come by way of hosting Metro TV’s flagship entertainment programme ‘’Allo Tigo’’. He was the former band leader of Van Greene, a UK band. Jon had to wait for almost 16 years to finally release ‘’This Is Who I Am’’, his debut album.
Produced by Kaywa and Jayso, ‘’This Is Who I Am’’ was an excellently crafted album, sonically. The album tilted towards rock- a deviation from the music enjoyed by Ghanaians. Another strong point of the album was in the area of song sequencing. Each track added to the overall ambience of the album.
‘’This is Who I Am’’ opened with ‘’Love Zone’’, a mid-tempo song that oozed with sublime RnB and rock elements. Built around an orchestra composition, ‘’Love Zone’’ was a celebration of his love object. The conspicuous orchestra sound gave way to the kind of kicks and bass drums that often surrounded R&B songs. Jon Germain made an entry with the words ‘’I can’t believe I’ve found love again”. This simple, confessional words offered a glimpse into the past love life of the singer – his past relationship did not work out as expected.
His voice swung between calmness and gruff, notably on the hook. On the Kaywa produce ‘’In My Head’’, Jon mused about an ex who had found ‘someone who loves you better’. The song captured the regret of losing her, lessons learned and hope of rewinding the clock. His musings felt like an apology letter or a WhatsApp text to an ex.
‘’Quiver’’ was a tale of two perspectives – love towards a lady and money rendered by Jon and rapper J-Town respectively. Whereas Jon quivered off his lover’s touch, J-Town, across two verses rapped about earning his quivers from the money he made. If there was a song that embraced the spirit of the album, per its sonic direction, then it was ‘Quiver’’. There was an umissable correlation between Jon’s ‘’Quiver’’ and ‘’In My Place’’ off Coldplay’s seminal album, ‘’A Rush of Blood In My Head’’ per the beat, song arrangement and manner in which the song was performed. The only difference was J-Town’s rap verses.
The closing three songs of the album were more R&B/Soul in composition. Both songs dealt with losing love. The piano-led, soulful ballad ‘’Set The Night’’ was about missing a lover. The R&B styled ‘’Holding On’’ was a call on his lover not to hold on to what they have. The final track, ‘’Can’t Explain’’, examined the bond existing between the two lovers. These three song are modelled along the lines of late 90s R&B/Soul ballads that used to fill the airways during lunch time or late night.
‘’This Is Who I Am’ was a neatly tucked album. The tales shared came from a place of realness. Jon Germain’s debut was not superlative in terms of its lyrical depth. The couplets on the album were simple, relatable, less complex; making it easy to sing-along. Was it deliberate? Perhaps, so fans could sing along especially at the hooks. There were obvious points on the album where Jon Germain struggled or overdid things vocally as heard on the bridge of ‘’In My Head’’ and ‘’Love Zone’’.
He should also be applauded for his approach and bravery- making an album that leaned heavily on rock despite the unpopularity of the genre in Ghana.
As a debut album, ‘’This Is Who I Am’’ hinged its allure on production and undeviating theme. It was an expression of the ups and downs of relationships. The album was not overly excessive. Jon Germain and his team of producers struck a fine balance between words and sounds to great effect. The album provided Jon Germain an opportunity to confront his emotions, in the process crafting an album he had always wanted to make.