Fort Jams is the musical persona of Long Beach singer-songwriter Joel Bond.
His latest single, titled “On & On,” radiates a distinctly Californian melancholy. Guitar parts are reminiscent of classic surf rock, with a warm, tropical feel. The track’s pacing gives it a laid-back, dreamy quality. Despite its relaxing effect, it is a sad song — Bond ponders the impossibility of fighting the system when all forces seem aligned against him. Reflecting on his limited ability to create change on his own, Bond is nonetheless determined to persist in his art. In this doggedness, we glimpse a few rays of hope peeking through the gloom of cynicism.
Southern California, where Bond makes his home, is a land of contrast. Alternately idyllic and dystopian, a smog-choked maze of traffic might be lit by an exquisite sunset. Palm trees and beaches provide a backdrop to rampant homelessness and social stratification. Even the nocturnal among us can’t escape the sensory saturation, drawn to the dangerous mystique of Southland nightlife.
Such an environment breeds the contemplative resentment conveyed in “On & On.” In the face of overwhelming problems, it’s tempting to let the sun-drenched landscape distract us from our worries. But as Bond acknowledges, ignoring problems rarely solves them.
Listen to “On & On” below, and look for the new EP Far Out, due to be released later this summer.