It’s no secret that I love free music. I mean, who doesn’t? The only problem with “free music” is that there seems to be a stigma with it that… Well… If you’re giving it away… What’s wrong with it? In most cases, nothing. In the modern age, the best (and perhaps only) way to get your name out there as a fledgling musician is to file share like crazy and sometimes, it works out to your advantage. For instance, I never would have heard of recent Mezzic reviewees Alaska if it weren’t for their debut EP being given away on their bandcamp. The same goes for Nashville songwriter Jacob Jones.
Jones is giving his EP, Volume One, away on his bandcamp right now but even if he weren’t, it’s my opinion that tossing a few bucks Jone’s way in exchange for his music would be a worthy investment.
I’d never heard of Jones before and if it weren’t for Mike Roeder (He of many-a-good recommendation), I’d probably still be blissfully unaware of the Tennessee native, whom I know nothing about other than what the few pictures I’ve seen of Jones and his music tells me. It’s refreshing to discover an artist without the assistance of a press release or pre-existing hype. It’s like discovering a buried treasure, learning a secret that none of your peers are in on. And something about that is extremely rewarding, especially when the music is as finely crafted as Jones’ is.
What I can infer about Jones from the little (read: nothing) I know about him is as follows: He appears to be about my age or a little older (I’m 26, for those keeping score at home). He also appears to be the kind of guitar slingin’, plaid wearin’, facial hair sportin’, tattooed gentleman that would be right up my alley and while this has nothing to do with his music, it makes him appeal to me just that much more. I can’t make any judgment calls on Jones personal life, what he might be like or what he might like doing, but he has a nice smile that leads me to hope he’d be an upstanding gentleman and a cool cat to shoot whiskey with, like every good Nashville boy should be.
Musically, Jones sounds like he ought to, based upon his appearance. Jones, like other new country darlings Mezzic’s covered recently Justin Townes Earle and Jonny Corndawg, is part of a growing trend of musicians that signify a reemergence of real country music, and Jones, much like Earle and Corndwag, is doing his damndest to make Hank proud on Volume One.
Volume One starts out strong, with “A Little More Time”, a tune that features a vigorously strummed guitar and a searing harmonica. When Jones starts singing, his voice heavy with twang and energy, it doesn’t take long to realize that you made the right choice here by snagging a copy of the free EP. Something about Jones voice is strikingly familiar in the best way possible. Listening to Jones sing feels like listening to the voice of an old friend but the fact is that he’s singing all original material. It’s like having a conversation with an acquaintance you haven’t seen in a while – The person is the same but the stories they’re spinning are all new to you.
The fact that Jones romanticizes himself on occasion only helps his appeal. I’d be hard pressed to find anyone amongst my female friends that wouldn ‘t go slightly weak in the knees for “Will You Miss When I’m Gone?” and the euphonious “Lost On The Ohio” would make a beautiful lullaby, the kind of song that would perfectly orchestrate a tender moment in any Focus Features indie flick between the male lead and his manic pixie dream girl. Far be it from me, however, to make it seem like Jones is all about the ballad. Volume One is punctuated nicely by a couple of jams, albeit acoustic, country jams, including the aforementioned “A Little More Time” and the’ sexy shuffle of “Go Tell Mama”, a song that I imagine definitely gets the crowd movin’ live.
Rounding out the EP is the confessional, heartbreaking “Hard Times”. By the third verse, when Jones says he “had a daughter”, you know this story is going to take a tragic turn, the way of Cursive’s “Sierra” at any moment. When it does, you’re not taken by surprise but that doesn’t make the moment any easier. You don’t have to have lost a child or a parent to understand the tragedy that Jones’ sings about on “Hard Times” and the fact of the matter is that Jones might not have lived through this himself. Like any good songwriter, Jones seems to be more than a little adept at spinning stories, tales of loss and woe and leaving your loved one. I’m not sure what Jones back catalog looks like but if his past releases are anything like Volume One, you’d best believe I’ll be pouring over them as soon as I get my hands on ‘em.