Jacob Lee-Nicholas Sullenger, a California-based singer better known as JAWNY, addresses love, heartbreak, and everything in between in an energetic jaunt through the life of a rising pop star on his debut album It’s Never Fair, Always True.
“i haven’t spent more time or energy on anything in my life and that is a fact,” JAWNY said in an Instagram post promoting the album.
With his luscious platinum blonde hair and rapturous melodies, JAWNY has proven himself to be a bedroom pop gold mine who’s here to stay in the music industry.
Since the release of his smash-hit single, “Honeypie,” in 2019, he has quickly amassed a devoted following. “Honeypie” now has over 272 million streams on Spotify, and JAWNY’s 2020 mixtape For Abby garnered high praise from British music magazine NME’s article “One of Lockdown’s Most Innovative and Colorful Bedroom Pop Projects.”
With It’s Never Fair, JAWNY is at the height of his powers, taking the bright and breezy sound of his original track “Honeypie” and expanding upon it.
“strawberry chainsaw” is a delightfully catchy celebration of newfound love bolstered by snappy guitar riffs. On the vengeful “take it back,” he adopts a grunge sound that alternates between being quiet and loud and is reminiscent of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” with heavy drums and distorted guitars and vocals.
“I take it back / I take it back now / if she never loved me then I’m better off alone, yeah,” JAWNY laments on “take it back.”
Amid a hypnotic piano line on “everything,” he delves into an introspective and deeply honest anthem of love and life.
“I’m old enough to feel old but young enough to die alone … but you know it when it hurts this is my attempt to find the words,” JAWNY sings.
It’s songs like “everything” that mark a clear departure from the superficiality of “Honeypie,” verifying JAWNY’s maturing as an artist and individual.
What stands out most about the album is that it establishes a clear-cut narrative plucked out of a great romantic film or piece of literature. With merely 13 songs, JAWNY crafts an incredibly profound, multifaceted, and varied story indicative of the human experience as a whole.
“it’s a cohesive through line narrative that i spent way 2 much time on,” JAWNY wrote in an Instagram post.
There’s a clear starting point, rise, fall, and aftermath on It’s Never Fair.
On the final track, “selfish hate,” JAWNY is in despair, yet ever wise for having had the experience sung about in the song. It’s a seven-minute and 45-second journey that functions as a metaphor for the album as a whole. Using melodic synthesizers, ambient background effects, and beat switch-ups, he most effectively delivers his message of what it feels like to undergo a transformative experience and come out of it painfully, tragically sobered, and asking yourself how you ever could have been so naive.
“And I, I swear you see right through me (Do the next / One, when I, when I, when I) / When I pretend it’s nothing to me / is it selfish to only want someone when you’re helpless?” JAWNY sings.
JAWNY provides an inspiring example of the risk of putting everything and the kitchen sink into a unified piece of art and leaving it up to the world to interpret it as it will—a feat that takes a great deal of courage.
“if you listen to this from start to finish, this is my best. im happy to admit that,” JAWNY wrote in an Instagram post.