A piano’s swanky melody, which is reminiscent of a light breeze that wisps through the autumn leaves and ushers in a new season for all of us to enjoy, emerges from the shadows of silence that we’re met with as “Don’t Wanna Own the World” takes shape in its first few bars. There’s a warm glow in the keys as they fall from the heavens and find a way into our souls, and they echo into the ethers for what feels like an eternity, all before Jon Dowling ever utters a single word in this, his latest single and first official cut from the new EP Long Days Long Nights. There’s a melancholic tone that’s underscoring his verses, and it’s not exclusively generated by the piano. Something is missing from his life; something is out of place and he can’t put his finger on it, no matter what he does, where he goes or what he tries to distract himself with. We’re in the front seat with Dowling as he cruises down a sonic highway trying to find himself in this song, and while the introspective nature of the narrative is indeed personal and quite brooding, it’s definitely not inaccessible or non-relatable to the casual pop fan.
Dowling has never been one to submit halfhearted lyricism in any of his work, but there’s something so raw, so real and uncaged in this track that I have to admit that I was taken aback by it when I first listened to it the other day. The way he attacks the chorus leaves me inclined to think that he’s got some sort of a personal vendetta against this hook – he’s a wild animal that can’t be tamed here, and even in his moments of controlled chaos, his vocal is so strong that it wouldn’t be a wise idea for anything to consider getting in its way. There hasn’t been a lot of bittersweet serenades of this style receiving mainstream attention in 2019, but that hasn’t been for a lack of trying on the part of the adult contemporary scene. What makes this track a rare treat isn’t its structure, but more the way that Jon Dowling delivers it; with surgical precision and undying emotion.
This latest single from Dowling doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, nor does it attempt to impart a new subgenre of pop unto us, but it’s definitely one of the most seductive and cosmopolitan songs that I’ve heard from any adult contemporary artist in the month of May. Spring is a season that deserves its own soundtrack, and whether you’re a serious soft rock fan or hold but a mere curiosity when it comes to underground music, “Don’t Wanna Own the World” is a single that will shift the mood of any given day towards the optimistic, which is likely what Dowling intended when he composed it. I’ve never been a big believer in comebacks after a lapse in recording, but the time that this artist spent away from the studio doesn’t appear to have affected him negatively at all (in fact, quite the opposite).