Photo by Max Nolte
“‘American Fiction’ is the kind of album that makes me thrilled to do my job – I had to share it with our listeners immediately. There is nothing more exciting than the spark of a new musical discovery, and Ona’s record isn’t just a spark, it’s a whole gosh darn flame.”
Ona, West Virginia is a small sliver of unincorporated ridges, creeks, and floodplains. It sprawls across Route 60 on its southern border and stretches up like a thick thumb almost reaching the Ohio River. It’s home to one stop light, an Exxon, and a consolidated high school. Driving out its roads, you snake through shadowy hollows past rural suburbia. People’s homes are tucked here and there where the folds of the land permit. A community of private property. Mortgaged acres. You’ll see some trailers. You’ll see some estates. You’ll see a dog with one eye. You’ll see the Beulah Ann Baptist Church.
Ona makes songs that take place in these spaces. Bradley Jenkins and Zack Owens write about passions slamming into roadblocks. They write about longing, resentment, searching, and waiting. They are backed by a tight rock and roll band comprised of Zach Johnston, Max Nolte, and Brad Goodall. The five of them create music that pulses and buzzes and echoes and rolls. It feels like standing with sweat in your eyes in grass up to your knees. It feels like getting your tennis shoes wet walking along the banks of the river. It feels like catching a buzz off a bottle your buddy stole from his brother and skipping track practice. It feels like taking a long walk into the trees when you can still hear them arguing inside the house.
Nobody in Ona is a millionaire. Everybody in Ona has to work in the morning.