Jonna Gault And Her Symphonopop Scene – Watch Me (1968)
Artist: Jonna Gault And Her Symphonopop Scene
Title: Watch Me
Label: RCA Victor
Jonna Gault could have been a huge smash success, a cross between Laura Nyro and Barbra Streisand, but instead she was swept into the dustbin of history.
A twentyish singer/songwriter/arranger/producer in an time when even Joni Mitchell had to hide behind a male producer, Gault had classical training and recording experience, and got a contract with RCA granting her complete artistic control.
But her “symphonopop” style – guitarless pop with unusual combinations of orchestral instruments, without the overreliance on strings that characterized the era – was a complete flop: she bridged the generation gap in the direction no one wanted to go, bringing a flower child sensibility to square pop music.
The story would be more interesting if this were a brilliant overlooked record, but the truth is it’s just mediocre: she falls in love with uninteresting melodic figures and repeats them endlessly (“The Pink Life”), her wry social comments are so understated they don’t say much of anything (“Jack And Jill,” a chronicle of mod love), and her thin voice doesn’t match her boisterous delivery (title track).
And who needed another version of “Eleanor Rigby”? Kitschiest of all is the colossally ill-conceived cover of “Good Vibrations” with orchestral instruments recreating the Beach Boys’ vocal parts. But there are fine tunes here – the love songs “Here We Are” and “The Answer Has To Come From You,” the folk-ish “Love Will Tell You Why” – and her arrangements show true flair.
Gault released a few more singles – “Man In The Moon”; “What If They Gave A War And No One Came?” (orchestrated by Lincoln Mayorga) b/w “Wonder Why, I Guess”; “Young” b/w “From My Window”; the depressingly ordinary, guitar-based “I’m Never Gonna Cry Again” b/w “What’s The Use” – but I’m not aware of any other LP. (DBW)
- Watch Me
- Good Vibrations
- Wonder Why, I Guess?
- The Pink Life
- Jack And Jill
- The Answer Has To Come From You
- Here We Are
- Eleanor Rigby
- The Picture
- Love Will Tell You Why