Album Review: The Only Ion — ‘Roses’

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Mission Creek Festival: Black Moth Super Rainbow w/ Makaya McCraven, The Only Ion

Gabe’s — Saturday, April 6 at 9 p.m.

Iowa City’s own The Only Ion recently gave us his newest EP, Roses, in May 2018. It’s such a diverse and articulate album it’s really hard to label as one genre (a few that come to mind are hip hop, soul and a bit of blues), which is a nod to the talent Ion possesses. Throughout the project you’ll hear in-depth lyrics, electronic instrumentation, string pieces, guitar riffs, piano chords — pretty much there is a ton that a listener can pick out.

The five-song project ultimately gives us different elements in each piece, and the common denominator is the soul that Ion brings to the forefront. Each song may hold a different meaning, vibe and instruments, but each possesses a soulful core. Ion is extremely poetic in his lyrics and in the overall structure of his songs, something which is evident from the start of the project.

From the first track, “Grindstone,” to the closer “Roses,” it’s easy to pick out the different influences, techniques and inspirations. Again, it’s hard to pin it down to a single genre, but each element is clearly planned out.

“Grindstone” shows off Ion’s lyrical talent, featuring a great deal of electronic elements in the piece as well. From there, things take a turn into funk with “Fotia.” He gets socially pointed with “W.G.T.M?” and teases vibes of intimacy with “Bacon (Go Down On Your Lover).” The title track closes things out with a soulful, funk-derived sound—a beautiful piece to end on.

This EP is fantastic; the best part was hearing the different ingredients that Ion brought into each piece and to the project as a whole. Make sure to keep an eye on what Ion is up to by following his socials and checking him out in the local scene.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 261.

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