Chicago songwriter Jonathan Gardner began writing music as Jontan after winning a grant to live and study in Brazil for two months near the end of college, a visit he said forever intensified his appreciation for the people and culture of the country. He first got into early Tropicália albums early on in college and began to learn Portuguese, a sound and language he still channels into his new music today, including on his upcoming debut album The Orange Book. The album harks back to Sunset Strip in the '60s and Rio de Janeiro in the '50s.The Orange Book features samba-soul, pensive soft-rock, and left-field pop. In addition to performing most of the instrumentation himself, Jontan sets his songs apart with lush, homemade cello arrangements. He is currently recording his second album, which showcases mellow, subtle songwriting alongside a tightened production style he's honed since embarking on his home recording journey.
Gardner began writing and recording his album when he hit a stride with his songwriting after a breakup. He whittled down more than 20 songs into 14 songs that he recorded at home while upgrading his home studio equipment and honing his production skills in the process. Living in the same apartment as guitar virtuosos Eli Winter and Walker Landgraf helps, as they’ve pooled together their instruments to play and record everything at home from a drum kit to vintage keyboards to Gardner's cello. In a sense, the album is also a testament to home recording and the journey that process can bring.
Much of Jontan's album sprang out of his personal growth during this period after his breakup. Not all of them are about romantic love, as some are about growing up and a literal dream he had, but "Now I Tell You" is an ode to the one who got away. Gardner said of the song, "it's a soulful anthem to the one that got away. Triumphant cellos, funky drums and soothing vocals weave a soul-stirring salve for the longing we all know. Its unexpected bridge catapults us into a soaring, fuzzed-out cello solo, as we ride the groove to the harmony-laden finale. This tender, retro tune will have you drafting love letters in your head – better 'Now I Tell You' than never."