He ended up in Nashville, Tn, and soon met Patty Griffin at the legendary Jack's Guitar Bar, where they spent many a night honing their songs. Stone Jack Jones went on several tours with Patty early in her career, forming what has proved to be an enduring musical relationship. A chance friendship with producer Roger Moutenot (Yo La Tengo, Lou Reed, Sleater-Kinney) began a collaboration that shaped all these different influences and experiences into a distinctive and evocative style that still exists on his most recent release, bluefolk.
Don’t let the surreal dining room sounds introduction fool you, bluefolk is no restaurant-based concept album. Rather, Stone Jack Jones’ second album is an interesting conglomeration of styles that, according to his website, includes “traditional Irish, medieval, punk and country” music. Jones employs a great number of different instruments on bluefolk, in fact, space limitations prevent me from listing them all; here are a few: guitars, piano, moog, organ, mandolin, trumpet, and more. Simple, effective, almost Beatles-esque vocal harmonies showcase the talents of Mr. Jones and his friend, Patty Griffin. Her ethereal voice, appearing on four tracks, provides a striking contrast to his scratchy, earthy voice. The juxtaposition of his organic singing against a very electronic instrumental background lends a creative depth to the album. The contrast of the two makes his voice sound even more natural, and the man-made sounds, more inorganic.
The first track, entitled “Smile,” is an excellent song with which to open the album, as it serves as a good introduction to the mood and sound of the entire record. The album continues much as it began, with “Bread” acting as the only upbeat song in a rather low-tempo, soothing collection. “Tell Me” features amazing drumming that takes place on mostly on the down-beats. This off-beat percussion is very complex and gives the song a unique quality. The country influence is very noticeable on “Lift Me,” a beautiful balladic song that even includes the tiniest hint of a toy piano. The aptly-titled “Rage” borders on dissonant, with an out of place feedback effect throughout the song. Bluefolk closes with an absolutely beautiful song: “Freedom” includes a sample of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s voice in a striking tribute to the man who fought so hard for the freedom of so many. The lilting organ and the haunting, disembodied voice of Dr. King provides a solid conclusion to this profound and fascinating album.
Sarah A. Stephens