The chemistry between Joseph Lazarri and John Vournakis is undeniable. On their collaborative four-song EP, JV/JL, you feel like a fly on the wall as two friends exchange tales of loss, faith, and trying to be happy with the cards they’ve been dealt.
The EP, recorded in a single day with Damon Moon at the Cottage, starts out with Lazarri’s “Ten Rounder.” His scratchy, Southern drawl pairs perfectly with Vournakis’ soaring backing vocals while the two set the scene of a heavyweight fight between living positively and wondering if life is worth the punches. Meanwhile, Vournakis’ “Turning Green” reads like a session in a church confessional — “I’m a faker and I’m a cheat / when I need to be” — his warm voice accompanied by soft keys and a toe tap.
But it’s the second half of the EP that really stands out. On Lazarri’s “I Can’t Breathe,” lines like “Who I was / and where I’ve been / wouldn’t even see me today and claim to be my kin” and “I can’t be your mocking bird / I can’t do what you do, even if it’s pretty and I wish I could” show Lazarri’s knack to paint a picture of the struggle that comes along with high expectations.
When he’s not writing music with the energetic New Junk City, Vournakis is erecting a bridge between punk rock and his love for acoustic records, and the perfect example of that can be found in “Clean Slate,” the EP’s final song. “I’ve grown up enough to know there’s nothing up above / When you’re gone, you’re gone and all we are is dust and bones and blood,” he sings over an upbeat acoustic strum, trapped between believing in the faith that keeps him going while also questioning if it’s leading him down the right path.
JV/JL is available for download now on both artists’ Bandcamp pages.