The Key Studio Sessions: No Stranger - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

I first caught Jonathan Cooney onstage in the basement of the First Unitarian Church in the spring, performing a set as No Stranger at one of music / education nonprofit The Quarterly’s fundraising showcases. It seemed, in a peculiar way, like I’d been transported to a Church show some ten or fifteen years earlier. Cooney’s style – intricate, acrobatic guitar playing with soaring and emotive vocals – is firmly rooted in the emo / acoustic era of the early thousands, stuff like Jonah Matranga, The Weakerthans, Elliott Smith, Bright Eyes and so on. It’s bittersweet, sensitive, contemplative and totally engaging.

It’s been almost a year since the Delaware-born, Glenside-based Cooney released Onward, No Stranger’s debut LP, and in between studies at Arcadia University, he is working new songs and new approaches into his repertoire. His Key Studio Session, which you can hear below, we hear two styles: acoustic, nuanced and harmonic-driven, as well as electric and incorporating of pedal tones and textures. “Great Grey Towers,” which opens the set, is a unreleased new song, and Cooney says he looks to release his followup album in 2015 sometime.

Meanwhile, we have two chances to see him perform live this month. Next week, he takes part in the Root Down in the Shadow-curated Philly Sings Philly night at The Fire, where he’ll cover some of his favorite local artists; on Friday, he plays Fennario in West Chester, and will share even more new songs. Get information on both shows here, and download the session below.

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