How far does someone need to travel, over how many years, to find what they’re looking for in the faces, names and sounds of the home they left so long ago? What answers are there to be found on the long road back to oneself? These are the questions that Wicklow born songwriter Bjorn Baillie asks himself, his collaborators and his audience, with his debut single Septembering, released under the name The Jonah Medal. The song was part recorded in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles and Brighton, UK (in Nick Cave’s studio).
Founded in Brighton, UK in 2020, The Jonah Medal began as a creative mission for Baillie to challenge his own forward musical progression, turn backwards and deeply inwards, and embrace the familiar. Baillie’s own creative journey had taken him around the world once already withhis hometown band La Rocca. Hespent his 20’s with them signing a major record deal, posting up in LA and touring with the likes of Phoenix, Jet,Silversun Pickups, and more. While based in LA, Baillie logged countless hours collaborating with artists of every genre; in the process, cultivating a deeply personal connection with the musical legacy, the lifestyle and the inhabitants of the legendary Laurel Canyon neighbourhood. There is a through-line from Baillie’s “Laurel Canyon period” into the new music of The Jonah Medal– the bare honesty and humanity of Carole King and Joni Mitchell,soulful lyricism of Crosby, Stills and Nash and the humour of Randy Newman – these are the themes that Baillie knew he needed to express in this new body of work, with the new-found perspective and experience of a well traveled artist and a father. Ballie was previously the front man of indie rock band La Rocca, who gained success in Ireland and the US being signed to LA label Dangerbird Records and toured with Phoenix, Jet and Silversun Pickups to name a few
Septembering starts on a nostalgic note with piano and guitar and quiet vocals before the drums join in and the song turns into more upbeat number that tries to spread positive vibes. There is an encouraging message that whatever has happened to you in life and whatever you had to go through, everything is part of the process, part of the reason living for. You learn from everything in life as you go along. As you listen more closely, the lyrics get both autobiographical and universal, an achievement on its own. The song eventually builds up to a grand sing-along finale that leaves long-lasting impression in listener's ears.
I’m asking my own generation if they’re okay. Mid-life is here for so many of us. With older parents and young children… we’re the generation squeezed in the middle trying to hold it all together. THATS what I’m addressing, all following my lead to serve the song, with sincerity and warmth.” The Jonah Medal reflects the musical and lyrical themes explored by Baillie throughout his career, injected with the clarity and heart of a man living a truly full life. Weathered optimism, clear-eyed understanding, the highs and lows of relationships, and adulthood, all represented in the lyrics, the sounds and the fabric of this music.
“We had no maps or detailed instructions, we started out as new…”
Artwork: William Andrews