From the get-go, this album is serious. Calling forth the ancestral wails of Appalachia and the dirty, sad soul of the Southern Delta in a stern mixture of truth, anger, fire, and – if you look under enough rocks – love; this, the second effort from The Bones of J.R. Jones, doesn’t disappoint. If you’re looking for something simple, something to play in the background, something that doesn’t grab what’s left of your soul, then look elsewhere, for you won’t find that here. This is music to get angry to, to do some stomping to, to cuss out your past, forlorn lovers to, to make cross love to, to let go to and wander unfettered into an old soul, an old sound that makes itself relevant and timely by the sheer brilliance of what it does. It is obvious a lot of thought and sweat went into the making of this album and it pays off as it grabbed my attention from the start and when, at infrequent times, the music might have lost its grasp on me, I found myself getting lost in the lyrics and the emotion and the feel of what is being done here and, to be perfectly honest, it feels good.
There is a heartfelt, beautiful simplicity found throughout the album, more noticeable on some songs (Hearts Racing, The Dark, The Plan) that others, but present throughout. While the first offering from this artist came at you like a vindictive runaway train, there seems to be a bit of a different aesthetic at work here, as if a different part of the heart was explored for some of this music, a part that holds a mildly sad and forsaken longing for things to be just a little different, whether it be a mindful musing on the past, or a mountain lake blue look towards a future almost bereft of hope. I felt this album all through its entirety. It affected me. It made me aware of things that I thought I had suppressed and, at times, it lulled me into a numb, world weary complacency only to bring me slamming right back to the present with a wry smile and a gentle, reassuring pat on the back.
My advice: spend some time with this this album, with this artist. Feel his emotions and his love and his indignation and let it get under your skin. Don’t think you’ve heard it after having only heard it once; else you’ll be doing yourself a great disservice. Seriously. Listen to this album, suck it in, ponder it, let it consume you, run away from it, put it aside and come back to it, feel it. Every time I listen to it I hear and feel something entirely different from the time before and it just makes me want to smile and nod like I know something.