MP3 JP Jones - Salvation Street
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16 MP3 Songs
FOLK: Power-folk, ROCK: Folk Rock
When all is said and done, there are maybe a score of singer-songwriters today who combine deep insight into the human psyche with a broad grasp of history, religion, literature, American mythology and landscape - plus a real genius for writing both words and melodies. With this album, the best-executed in a string of fine recent work, JP Jones ought to be counted amoung them.
The title track, which opens the release, is a song of hope - a trust that love and simple purpose can redeem us. "Long Blue Train" continues the prologue. With its epic sweep, it is a folk classic - part invocation, part manifesto of the writer's vocation. The entire world is swept away on this eight minute freight train of a song. Other songs in this visionary mode are "Nobody Speaks for Me," Dante's Highway," "Ordinary Day" and the final song,
"What Called Me to This." Together they are Jones' statement on art and the life of the artist.
In some ways, Jones is as democratic as Whitman -moments of spiritual insight, transcendence and an almost universal sense of communion are available to everyone on a daily basis if they can shake off the lures and
There are quieter moments here too. "Thas Right" allows ample time for repose with a lover. I also liked "Mole In The Ground," a love lament which takes off from the first line of the traditional American ballad to revel in the
wild, insensate world of things.
An album like this deserves to have printed lyrics. Also, there are a few lighter songs at the very end of the record, notably "Tiger Woods" and "Po Man." They might have worked better if they'd been spread out more. But these
are minor quibbles. Fine production and excellent musical/muse backup includes vocals by Barb Schloff and Les Sampou.
-Hugh Blumenfeld, Sing Out!
On his seventh CD, JP Jones wages a 70 minute battle with his inner Bob, emerging proud, if not victorious. He titles a song "You Belong To Me," tells us "everyday I write a little more of my masterpiece," uses the phrase "Blowin' in the wind," and name checks Dylan. Picking like Mississippi John Hurt, Jones confesses, in "Po Man," to having stolen his riffs from "the records in the radio" and his style "from the guy who stole the show." But as the song good naturedly notes, all of us "go around in a sack of borrowed bones." Everything is stolen from somewhere. Here, Jones faces the difficulties he's had with the music business and produces-largely from sweat equity--a poetic, honest, and spiritual record that rocks. Completed last August--but including material from 1975 to the present-and recorded largely at home, Jones' faces his adversary with familiar weapons: gruff voice; half spoken delivery; dense, literate lyrics; insistent rhymes. He also plays harp, guitar, keyboard, and a variety of percussion backed by an excellent band.
"Salvation Street," somewhere on the upbeat side of Desolation Row, finds speaker and companion among those "transfixed and amazed" at a glimpse of salvation. The truth they learn "is... gentle and raw. / Everybody still tries. / Everybody still dies. / That ain't the rules it's the law." The hum-able melody is driven by Lloyd Salisbury's dramatic piano, a memorable musical hook supplied by Michael Barrette's electric guitar arpeggios, and swelling voices that join in the run up to the refrain. "Long Blue Train," an eight minute epic, returns to its title with ever increasing ferocity and Les Sampou's electronically enhanced vocals. "That's Right" shows a softer side in a light hearted shuffle. Vinnie
Pasternak's soaring viola in "Ordinary Day" recalls It's a Beautiful Day. "Almost Satisfied" is an eight minute autobiography ala "My Back Pages." "Back It Up" is a real rocker with a terrific chorus, a wall of voices, and great organ sounds. "Now It's Up to You" dreams of an in-person meeting with Dylan after which Jones declares, "I used to be a poet, now I just say what I mean." In the final cut, "What Called Me To This" Jones asks why he has endured the struggle for so long. The answer is Salvation Street, one brave and excellent album.
© David Kleiner
Dan Herman, Radio Crystal Blue
This is fantastic music!!!
I felt tranportated to a dark smoky cafe, a pair of floodlights on a small stage, and an intimate group of performers began to weave stories of ne'er-do'wells, seekers, people who blur the spiritual and the third-dimensional.
Too many songs to cover in one sitting, but I covered nevertheless. In this 70+ minute offering, many of these recordings could be TV or movie scores....Some like "Po Man' are downright Dylan-esque and hilarious, but genuine. Some songs invoke the "yup, me too" effect in the song "Nobody Speaks for Me". "Ordinary Day" speaks of what is likely JP Jones' own description of taking a leap of faith. Or was it "This Is How I.."? Maybe it's all a journey, a journeying.....
This is among the most well constructed, produced CDs I've heard this year.
From Independent Songwriter Web-Magazine, December, 2001
There's an existential quality about this album; almost as if the spiritual revelations of JP. Jones have once again crossed another great divide. With song titles like "Nefertiti Smiling" and "Dante's Highway" you can imagine the soundscape even before you open the package.
Outside of his tremendous visionary songwriting, JP Jones has a voice reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, yet it has a pain and suffering all its own. Gritty, raw and intense, JP Jones sings with the passion of a man possessed to find the truth.
His sound grips the imagination of the listener. Music hypnotically pulsates. Lyrics flood the brain with beautiful, surreal, eerie, and frightening images; often spinning simultaneously.
One of the truly great songwriters, JP Jones has once again created a masterpiece that defines what indie music is suppose to be.
Ming Yuan, Spirit of Change
Having previously become acquainted with the talents of JP Jones, the arrival of his latest album received a warm welcome. Like a letter from a dear friend it was opened with anticipation and with the first few bars of band one ("Nefertiti Smiling"), Jones met and surpassed all expectation. The Bob Dylan influence is still there, hints of Bruce Springsteen slip in vocally and stylistically, while the instrumental versatility has echoes of Clapton, Knopfler, and the intriguing strings that are reminiscent of John Mellencamp's band. Even with the foregoing comparisons called to mind, it must be said that Salvation Street has his own signature sound. While "folk/rock" might be the appropriate category for JP's body of work, he redefines boundaries and crosses barriers so fluidly that the journey he takes the listener on is as smooth as the extraordinary balance he strikes between total spontaneity of performance and polish of production. One can so much enjoy the rhythm that the lyrics are lost in the pleasure of instrumental soul stroking, making a second listen necessary in order to focus on the words! Salvation Street is a great place to be - especially with JP Jones as tour guide.
Interview with Radio Crystal Blue host Dan Herman https://www.tradebit.com
DH-Love the 'Tiger Woods' (track 13)production! A paean to arguably the most accomplished golfer
of this generation. Do you have a golf game?
JPJ-Do I have game.... is that the question? Well,....I do have a set of clubs, but don't play
much these days. I spent a couple of summers at Franconia Golf Course in Springfield, MA,
when I was a kid, caddying and playing some. When I was 15, the last year I played regularly,
I was just starting to break 80, but haven't seen much of that since. Tiger Woods, as it appears
on the CD, was thrown together almost as an afterthought. The production gave me fits, as it
wasn't really a live performance with the guys, but pieced together as I made up the song-- I
prefer doing everything live, especially when the musicians don't know the song yet. Woods is
without question the best golfer in the contemporary competitive world, for whatever
value you place on that. Golf is the most mystical of games-- I think Alan Watts might
have said that. Anyone who feels that to be true should read Michael Murphy's Golf
in the Kingdom-- a wonderful little book
DH-With over 300 recordings to date....it would seem your very purpose is to write...as you put it 'life
and death'. Did you know coming into this life you'd be a songwriter?
JPJ-I don't really have any idea how many "recordings" I've made-- well over 300, but I
think you're referring to a line somewhere about how many songs I've made up. As far as
knowing what I'd be coming into this life.... my memory doesn't really go back much before I
was born.... truth is, I don't see myself as a songwriter, except in a loose sense. I don't have
any idea what I really am. I don't have any idea what we are, us human beings. All I know is
that the one supreme drive in all of it is the need to create. So one of the things I
do is make music. God, am I thankful I can do that.
DH-People reading your lyrics, especially those with NYC connections as I will feel a sense of
poignance from your words. Example from 'Salvation Street' title track:
'today I carry a prayer for everyone we meet / saints and sinners all around us earth under our
feet nefertiti smiling and my vision is complete '
Tell us more about that Egyptian/middle east/NYC connection if you can.
JPJ-All the songs on Salvation Street were written before 9/11. The CD was mastered on the 4th
and 6th of September. On the 14th I began a series of shows at The Big Kahuna in Bridgton,
ME. It was impossible to play some of my material then. My guess-- and it's only a guess--
is that some part of me tunes into issues in our world that are beyond my own knowing and that
this comes out in my writing. On the afternoon of Sept. 11 a friend in NY emailed me a line, one
line, a line from a song called Atlantis Revisited--"and the winds came up and blew it all
away." I was horrified to realize that when I wrote that song back in the 80's, I was seeing
the WTC in the back of my mind somewhere. I wept hard on and off for the next few weeks. I
didn't have anything like that in mind when I came up with Salvation Street. Only the sense
that there is a place in all of us where we transcend our regional/religious factionalism and
are redeemed in our celebration of life. Reconciling those differences that sometimes
seem to huge, so important, so intractable, offers a vision that completes an otherwise
impoverished view of what it means to be human. Nefertiti is the name of the wife of an
ancient Egyptian King. It means "The beautiful one has come."
DH-You mention on your site you've shared billing with BB King, "Boss" Springsteen and other
luminaries. Did you get to trade licks with them on stage? Any of them captured in audio?
JPJ-No, only opened the show. The BB King reference is inaccurate. He was playing the
blues room at Pall's Mall (in Boston), while I was next door in the larger room, opening for
Little Feat. I remember Lowell George cursing Warner Bros. for not offering more tour
support. I was blown away by Little Feat at the time-- I had never seen anything like it. It
seemed as if they were hardly moving, hardly playing their instruments at all, and people were
dancing on the tables, literally. I was absolutely blown away by Richie Hayward on drums.
I met Bruce Springsteen the first time while we were both recording our first(and for me, the
last) album for CBS. I came to a session at 914 Studios in Nyak, NY, and he was running over
and asked me if I'd mind if he finished. I didn't know him at all then, but was happy to oblige.
Later we met again briefly in Providence, RI, where I was opening the show. His manager
only booked gigs where he was the headliner. All I remember then was this little guy with a
secret smile and an obvious sense of confidence. I was green, a kid, with a long way to go in
discovering who I was in the panoply of the music biz.
DH-John Hammond Sr. had quite a rep for his dominant personality, perhaps even conflicts of
interests in his music dealings. What sticks out in your mind of 'being discovered' by him?
JPJ-My "being discovered by John Hammond" sticks out as one of the sorrier moments in my
contacts with the official music industry establishment. Whatever Hammond's "failings"
might have been, he was a giant to me. Here was a man who put Louis Armstrong in the studio
with white cats, got Bessie Smith recorded, "discovered" Dylan and Springsteen, etc., etc.
When he came to my house to hear me play, he made comments like, "Never close your eyes
while you're singing," and so on. I had no idea what to make of it. He asked me to play my
most "ambitious" piece. I quickly thought of a 12 minute song called Crossroads Where I Stand,
then played By a Thread instead. If he wanted ambitious, then I figured the shortest song I had
written that put it all in two and a half minutes was the way to go. Later he wrote saying that I
deserved to be in the studio and he was going to schedule some sessions as well as get me
booked into Mike Porco's Folk City on 3rd Street in the Village. I met Mike Porco and he
was agreeable. I was pumped. Time passed and nothing seemed to be happening according to
plan, so I responded with an angry letter of disappointment to John Hammond(!). Had he
forgotten? Was he serious? Hammond was insulted and washed his hands of the whole
matter. I thought I was being strong, forthright. Like I said, green.
That was in 1975, I think. Today I'm impressed that I even got a chance to meet the man. And
grateful that he saw something of value in what I was doing.
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