As I said when Runaway Blues hit the review desk at the start of the year, Portman’s music might sound like more of the same, a deft blend of pop and rock, blues and groove, but spend a bit of time to absorb what is actually going on here and you realise that his music is much cleverer than you might first have given in credit for. And now you have thirteen tracks to prove it. And if that previous release showed us the rock guitarist in him, which does indeed inform most of the album, there are a few tracks which really underline the scope of Portman as a composer and player beyond what we might have been expecting.
Songs such as Acetylene a gentle slice of acoustica, embellished with beat and some wonderful sonic details around the edge but as good a bit of mid-paced pop-rock balladry as you could wish to hear and The Architect (It’s All About Love) and Fine both finely wrought, piano drive pieces which traverse even more wonderfully understated waters.
These more considered songs are balanced against some bigger sounds. Make It Okay is a brooding blend of tribal beats, primal electronica and widescreen musical drama and Over and Over (Hey Oh Hey Oh)runs on a reggae groove, all sunshine melody and infectious vibrancy and the opening salvo and title track is a solid slab of rock.
There is a mercurial blend of music on this album but there is a consistency too and that, of course, is the art of it. Wander too far out and across too many genres and the album might sound disjointed and unfocused, stay too near one core sound and you risk being predictable, boring even. So how do present an album which showcases all of your thoughts and musical ideas, offers a varied sound palette but also hangs together neatly and with a core sonic consistency. Well, I’m damned if I know but one thing is for sure, Jarel Portman certainly does and Supersonic is the perfect proof.