MP3 JP Jones - Ashes
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11 MP3 Songs
FOLK: Modern Folk, ROCK: Folk Rock
"we made the original recordings at lloyd's 8-track studio in moosup, ct., with the basic tracks all going to tape in one go, three or four takes, tops. we recorded about twenty songs, some solo, and then transferred everything to a paris daw. for those interested in such things, a daw(digital audio workstation) allows minute control over everything that happens with the sound. if you want to slide a snare drum 25 milliseconds forward in time, because it makes the music move better, you can(i did). if you want to make a singer who sings flat sound like she knew what she was doing all the time, you can change the pitch(i didn't). that's why i put in the credits, "jp jones is responsible for all the sounds on this recording." the other musicians were: everett brown: accordion, mandola; mike fishman: banjo; ed laperle: bass; kurt meyer: stand up bass, fretless bass; vinnie pasternak: electric guitar, violin, viola; steve tavares: gong, claves, tambourine, sandblock, triangle, windchimes, congas; drew wanacht: drums.
the opportunity to work at home with no time constraints and only my own imagination for limits led me to do things i usually don't like to do. except for the rhythm guitar(coming out of the right channel) on don't feel guilty, for example, i over-dubbed all the electric guitar on this record. once we began this kind of work, it didn't make sense to stop until we had added a number of other over-dubbed tracks that provide much of the color on the recordings. i played a paint brush on a sheet rock compound bucket on some sunny day... steve rubbed a moistened thumb along the rim of a paddle drum... we had a good time, too.
we could have fixed some green notes or fluffed up some weaker moments with effects, but that's not the kind of work i want to listen to. while acutely attuned to what is currently commercially viable, the truth is ashes was made with no compromises whatsoever for the marketplace. curiously, when it came time to master the final mixes, all the gear and expertise that a first-rate mastering studio and engineer could bring to bear couldn't improve on those mixes. we left the sound raw without a lot of compression and reverb, and you can hear what everyone actually did. i am proud of what i was able to accomplish technically... i don't think of myself as very technical-minded... and am confident that this CD holds its own with anything out there. i'm used to finishing a project and then having to live with all the things i couldn't get right, all the things i wish i could go back and rework.... not with this record.
i'm not going to attempt to interpret these songs for anyone else. i will say that most of these pieces are recent and come out of a kind of necessary reckoning long over due around these parts... an owning up and surrender to forces of nature that may yet be our salvation. it's not for me to say whether this is a a collection of songs that people will want to listen to, but it is exactly what i meant.
to be alive is a great privilege. to be in a position to do the work you love to do is nothing less than a state of grace."
september 28, 1999
Victor K. Heyman, Sing Out!
John Paul Jones recorded his first album in 1972 at the age of 23. Released on CBS' Columbia/Windfall label, it sold only 8000 copies. He waited eighteen years to release his next self-produced album, and has, over the past 10 years, released three more. This[Ashes} is his latest. Jones has a gravelly voice and some 300 songs stored up to sing. He feels that maturity has given him something worth writing about. He does indeed have a variety of styles to go with a variety of messages. At one point he says: 'now don't you worry, if you're a loner / your spirit can be wounded but it never can be killed / some how I know it deep down inside me / every longing of the human heart / shall one day be fulfilled.'
There is a bit of the rocker in Jones, along with a Dylan sound, and some Jack Hardy. All in all, it is an unusual collection of songs performed well. In an age of silly lyrics and indistinguishable voices, JP Jones indeed has something different to offer. He is worth serious attention.
Life's been complicated for ol' JP. His muses are dark visions, sombre voices and powerful emotions that inhabit a sere world of spirituality and inner space. Eclectic influences as diverse as Dylan and Greg Brown are audible. With a career that had been on the back burner following notable gigs at NYC's CBGBs and Folk City, he moved to Rhode Island and continued his songwriting despite a dearth of commercial success. Forming a private label, he has no problem releasing his material now. His music creates whole worlds and his raspy voice can fill the "aching for something sacred." Frequently when listening, I feel Chris Smither and that is especially true of "Black and Blue" where 'everything around me looks more or less normal" -a cue for trouble. A Springsteen-like pathos fills "Sandy." Jones would buy you a crown of thorns if he knew your hat size and he creates songs of world-weary grace and beauty. The vision is dark and diaphanous with disappointment, failed love, put off dreams and atmospherically brilliant evocation. He's a staccato stiletto to your heart.
-Mark Gresser, Music Matters Review
J.P. Jones goes a long way back. He did an album for Columbia/Windfall back in 1972. But success eluded him. After that he was trying to get another major label interested in his music for years -- to no avail. Still, his repertoire of songs was increasing and increasing. To get his music out to the people who enjoyed it, Jones decided to put up his own record company, through which he released several CDs during the '90s. Ashes is his latest offering.
Jones comes from a Bob Dylan/Phil Ochs tradition. His husky voice is not unlike Dylan's or Steve Forbert's. The vocals are often delivered in a style that's closer to talking than singing. Charming, though. The album is produced very acoustically. There's nothing fancy here: bass, drums, vocals, harp and guitar, all of which were recorded live, giving the album a very spontaneous touch from which Jones' music profits enormously.
Since the "back to the basics" style becomes him best, it's no surprise that the weakest track here is the one most cluttered up: "Don't Feel Guilty" literally drowns the man's talent. He's much better and sounds much more at ease when he is the raspy storyteller.
Close your eyes and every now and then you feel as if transported back to the heydays of the folk revival of the '60s. Only a few songs were written recently; most of the material comes from the last three decades. Still, Jones is able to create a unity with his music. He is not as down-to-earth as Utah Phillips, but he's far from being a modernizer of the folk tradition. Jones is especially successful when he's adding unusual instruments, like the dumbek or djembe, making his sound mysterious as can be heard in "To Be a Man." Every now and then there are also shades of the Dire Straits to detect; "Black and Blue" has the same straightforwardness as Mark Knopfler's best work.
His lyrics are not of the "I love you / do you love me?" kind. "To Be a Man" tells about the day after the army came marching through the town, leaving only suffering and poisoned wells in their wake. In the blues-drenched "Some Sunny Days," someone stores up all his anger and waits to pay it all back one fine day. The purgatory of the heat in "Stand in the Fire" lets us know that life is too short to follow false gods and that it's only love that matters in the end. Much darkness here and few illusions left. For Jones love clearly is the only power that can keep the coldness outside. But as strong as love seems, in the end it all hangs "By a Thread."
This might not be a record you would want to listen to when the walls are closing in, but these songs are very well written and Jones has more than just something to say. He is a well-kept secret. It's high time to unravel it.
-Michael Gasser, https://www.tradebit.com
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