Building on the foundation of the smooth production sounds of 2018’s “The Truth” comes the new, eponymous titled, album by Laurence Jones (& Band) and it’s pleasing to note that the musical progression of this artist is continuing in an upward curve with this very nice collection of new original tunes (plus one cover of a classic). The use of the “N” word (no, that that one, heaven forbid) is not meant to be damning with faint praise but a deliberate attempt to avoid the hyperbole that seems to accompany many releases and provide a realistic appraisal. There aren’t many amazing musical events out there and, spoiler alert, this is not the blues equivalent of “Dark Side of the Moon”; it is, however, a fine collection of well-produced material that is clearly the result of some thought, rather than simply rocking up at the studio with a bunch of unimaginative twelve-bar B side material.
I felt I was in safe hands from the opening bars of track one, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” with its jaunty piano intro, followed by Stones’ style guitar chords before the bass and drums kick in. The song has a rising chorus, supported by powerful backing vocals and the band going full tilt, with a few dynamic stops and starts here and there to create extra interest. This is going to be a big live favourite. Naturally, there is some tasty guitar playing filling the gaps. “Wipe Those Tears Dry” represents the more soulful crossover sound that Laurence Jones occasionally creeps towards, a mid-paced beat underpinned by an organ riff, only given a bit of edge by some wah wah guitar playing. “I’m waiting” is a faster-paced number, again led by some strong organ work. “Stay” returns to the rollicking feel of the opening track, and is the territory where, in my opinion, Laurence Jones is more effective, music that would get a live audience tapping away while nodding approval at the strong melody and powerful hook. “Mistreated” actually kicks off sounding like a classic blues track with some moody soloing before the band join, bass and guitar playing a neat riff underneath the chorus. Classic! I look forward to hearing this live. “Quite like You” continues the blues feel, but with a more of an uptown beat; a memorable chorus line boosted by the excellent vocals of guest Di Reed and some lovely soloing (a bit of an SRV feel). I can imagine any number of contemporary blues artists covering this. The mood becomes even more blue with “Long Long Lonely Ride”, which starts with some sepia-tinged acoustic playing before picking up the pace and rolling nicely along, featuring some very tasteful licks from Laurence Jones and excellent keys from Bennett Holland (whose playing is a real feature of this release).
The maturity of the songwriting and the quality of the arranging is displayed on “Beautiful Place” which has a lovely restrained feel and really good backing vocals, carried along by a catchy guitar motif. The quality of the guitarist’s vocals are really good throughout, equally able to handle the soulful groove of “Beautiful Place” as the fast-paced rousing pop of following track “Low Down.” I don’t know why more artists, particularly in the blues-rock field, don’t do more cover versions; to be honest, the mediocrity of much songwriting in the field is only barely compensated by technical prowess. Laurence Jones doesn’t fall into this category but it is particularly impressive that he and the band take on not only a classic song but one by the Beatles no less, in their version of “Day Tripper”. I can imagine what a dreadful mush some other guitarists would make of this but it’s a sign of this band’s skill that they give it a distinctive feel. In dispensing with one of rock music’s most memorable riffs and replacing it with a groove that owes a huge debt to SRV’s “Crossfire” (check out the recent Reese Wynans’ version for eyebrow-raising comparison), while retaining the strong melody, is brave indeed. Bringing the riff in at the close is a nice touch. Two more tracks follow, ending with “The Love” a bluesy ballad with some very nice rhythmic guitar work. This is one of those albums where repeated listening is rewarded by hearing all those nice (the “N” word again!) touches that are scattered liberally throughout. This is a very classy effort indeed, a cut above much of the competition.
EIGHTdoodle paws out of TEN …
- Everything’s Gonna Be Alright
- Wipe Those Tears Dry
- I’m waiting
- Quite like You
- Long Long Lonely Ride
- Beautiful Place
- Low Down
- Day Tripper
- Heart Is On Fire
- The Love
Laurence Jones – Vocals, Guitars
Bennett Holland – Backing Vocals, Keyboards
Phil Wilson – Drums, Percussion
Greg Smith – Bass Guitar
Special Guest – Di Reed – Backing Vocals (all except tracks 3 & 7)
Credits (*All tracks except 10)
Music & Lyrics by: Jones, Holland, Smith, Wilson, and Elias
Published By: Stars and Songs Global Publishing (BMI)
*Track 10 – Music & Lyrics by: Lennon & McCartney – Published By: Sony/ATV LLC (ASCAP)
Executive Producer: Jan Lagendijk
Producer: Gregory Elias
Engineer: Juan Mario “Mayito” Aracil
Mixed by: Juan Mario “Mayito” Aracil, Gregory Elias
Vocal Coach: Guianko Gómez
Mastering Engineer: Alex Psaroudakis
Recorded in Miami, FL, USA: Top Stop Music & GML Recording Studios
Release Date – Friday September 27th 2019 – The album will be available on CD, Vinyl, limited Deluxe Vinyl (coloured – Amethyst) and in the bundles – such as a deluxe bundle including the Signed Deluxe Edition Vinyl, Ltd Edition T shirt, Signed CD, Ltd Edition collectors badge set and signed photo of Laurence Jones Band. The album and bundles are available for pre-order now via www.laurencejonesmusic.com.