In his brand new single “Don’t Wanna Own the World,” adult contemporary singer/songwriter Jon Dowling gets personal with his lyrics and opens up his heart to us in a way that he never has before. Stylized around a brooding harmony between the vocal track and a pristinely melodic piano, “Don’t Wanna Own the World” is an electrifying ballad that is given a unique texture through its vivid poeticism, which has become all too uncommon in today’s tritely ambiguous pop music. There’s nothing to come between artist and audience in this song, and while he’s not necessarily introducing us to a new sound instrumentally, it can be said that he’s dishing out the most memorable vocal of his career to date in its nearly five minutes of running time.
The lyrics are the centerpiece of this track, and everything is built atop their foundational framework. The piano, the delicately constructed percussion, even the faint bassline nuzzling the vocal with as much affection as two lovers would afford one another; through these passionate verses, every one of these sonic elements is given a finishing that adds to the evocativeness of “Don’t Wanna Own the World” in a way that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. Dowling hasn’t disappointed us with his songwriting in the past, but he’s definitely operating on an entirely different level of creativity in this single. He’s not employing any patronizing platitudes or mundane metaphors to make a statement about self-awareness; he’s speaking directly from his soul, almost as someone would in casual conversation.
As “Don’t Wanna Own the World” nears the finish line, the instrumentation gets as epic as 4th of July fireworks. A drum-led breakdown gives way to a virtuosic vocal harmony, a flamboyant guitar solo, and finally a surreal fadeout that induces chills almost every time that I’ve listened to it. The hook in the chorus is certainly quite intoxicating, but personally I don’t think that it holds a candle to what this outro packs in a single, swift melodic punch. Few pop musicians are putting as much detail and intricately structured embellishments into their work these days, which is part of the reason why I think that Jon Dowling’s sound stands out as much as it does, despite the crowded pool of talent that he has to contend with both in and out of his scene.
Pop fans searching for a soft rocking swagger this spring really don’t need to look any further than Jon Dowling’s “Don’t Wanna Own the World” when compiling their seasonal playlist, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s definitely one of the more engaging adult contemporary tunes that I’ve had the chance to explore lately. Not very many musicians in Dowling’s peer group have the supreme depth of emotion that he does, and based on the minimal contrast between his early work in the late 2000’s and his present material now, as the 2020’s inch closer, I would have to say that it doesn’t appear like he’s going to be creatively slowing down anytime soon. With that said, I’m really looking forward to hearing more music like this from his camp in the future.