Jony Shelby gets impressively creative throughout this EP Mango. His production style and his use of melody with dashes of hip hop all fuses well to create something atmospheric and appealing on a number of levels. Ash Heart as an opener is all of this, structurally unique and emotional in nature – you’re drawn in from the offset as the sound is so crisp and clean. Then later, you get this oddly industrial beat and a distant vocal melody to redirect things, and meanwhile various synths and sounds appear scattered across the outskirts of the recording.
It’s a cool sound, if such a word isn’t too vague and subjective. It feels fit for cinema in some ways, and fit purely to accompany your Friday night vibe in others. The song also has a great hook, heartfelt and memorable, which surprises among such a creatively free soundscape – it’s refreshing in bringing so many different qualities to the stage.
Elsewhere on the project, the single I’m Not Ken kicks up with a touch of tribal-like rhythm and some more scattered vocals. There’s space here, the vocal is gentler and so the words stand a little taller among this. The concept and the rhythm of lyrical delivery work well together in creating something intriguing and unusual. It feels notably experimental, but also deeply rooted in RnB songwriting from a melodic, expressive perspective. It feels soulful and electronically intense at the very same time.
Afterwards, Mellow emerges and feels perfectly fit for the collection – you know the artist by now, there’s something comforting in the unpredictable nature of his creativity. This song is undoubtedly memorable for its instrumental riffs and the rhyme scheme and short lines. In the same instance, the song provokes thought – and the music accompanies that process pretty perfectly.
A personal highlight from this EP is the song Faux. Certain elements within feel familiar and there’s nostalgia in that, but at the same time – certain other elements feel completely out there and unexpected, adding a sense of newness and helping keep you interested. Once again, Shelby has arranged this with creative care, so the journey from start to finish is far more than a simple pop set-up. It’s worth listening more than once to really piece together these dreamlike fragments of ideas.
Trakstar brings about a moment of bare ambiance in which Shelby’s vocal qualities shine quite brightly. The underlying idea of running works well, and as the beat hits the whole thing finds its groove fairly quickly; taking the listener along for the ride. There’s a strangely meditative aura to much of the music on this project, it’s experimental yet intentional, and the vocal snippets keep an element of humanity alive so you can really get in and connect with it all. The latter half of this song sees the passion rise and the journey continue to intensify effectively.
The final track on the Mango EP is the colourful, characterful and hard-hitting Lobby Party. This one stands out quite considerably for the faster pace, the heavy drum and the density of lyrics – as well as the weight with which they’re delivered. The soundscape grows to be something of an EDM peak, energetic and distorted; chaotic and carefree. It’s a bold way to end and it showcases another side to the creative producer that is Jony Shelby. All of these tracks stand tall in the context of this EP and indeed as singles outside of the project. It’s almost like modern hip hop and alternative pop, but it’s also nothing like them – it’s something of its own entirely.