Based in Wales, but with a very clear London accent, Jon Penny has just released his latest single, Still Smilin’ and we’ve been taking a few listens here at the Send Me Your Ears studio.
Still Smilin’ is influenced by an old photo that Penny found of himself as a child. The idea being that problems don’t define us, they just make us human.
Still Smilin’ has the cutest youtube video with it that includes lots of footage of Jon Penny as a child, making his mistakes as he goes through childhood, but nonetheless, still smiling.
Still Smilin’ starts with a chanting/singing school classroom sound and then leads into a lo-fi instrumental section with electronic drums, guitar and bass.
When Penny’s vocals come in they are very clearly a London accent. This makes the song quirky and charming in its own way. There are places where the vocals have some lovely harmonies added and this really brings the song to life.
Lyrically reading almost like a confessional or a diary entry, this is an extremely personal song about Penny’s childhood. His dog died, his dad killed himself, but despite this, Penny is still smiling. The melody of the vocal line is simple. It’s the lyrics that are the focus.
Sounding a little like the early 2000s band, Cake, the arpeggiated guitar and simple but melodic bassline carry the vocals, along with the drum track.
From a production perspective, we felt that the running bass is a little heavy around 70Hz so a cut here will balance things out a little. Also, the tuned note of the snare is dominating the low mids so a cut around 185Hz would solve that. The vocal is a little sibilant in places so a cut around 5-10kHz in the vocal track might be a good idea. For a self produced song, this is a promising start.
Still Smilin’ is a quirky and unique track that made us smile at the “Britishness” of some of the lyrics; “I left the house without a jumper on or a coat, life is full of surprises ‘cos it started to rain”. Lyrically similar in places to the second section of “A Day In The Life” (“Woke up … got out of bed”), it paints a simple picture of a kid’s life and personal experiences. A brave and exposed personal song.