|the desert island classics story #8:|
Washington DC is not only a place where big-time politics is made, in the Eighties the city was also filled with music of the folk/country/blues/songwriter genres featuring surpring talent like Mary Chapin Carpenter or John Jennings. This scene also provided a kind of artistic home for more reticient guys like Kevin Jones. A mainstay at "Gallagher's Pub" on Sunday nights, he was part of a clique that also included local heroes like Steve Erwin or the late Ace Smith. These folks liked each other's music and liked to give assistance to each other. A fact that is proven by the cast that appears on NOBODY'S FATHER: Mary Chapin Carpenter, John Jennings, Steve Erwin, Pete Kennedy (of the Kennedys) – they all appear as guests on this album that was recorded in Northern Virginia's Bias Studios. The material was all original and written between 1984 and 1988 - snapshots from everyday life. No drama or egocentric emphasis on emotional turmoil is at the center of these songs, but observations made with a certain kind of wry intelligence and humor. A little left of center, but always expertly executed musically
and sometimes featuring an attitude - the outsider looking in.
"Brilliantly played and sung in an appealingly world-weary tone the songs wander into the blues quarter but still wear country clothes," Joe Cushley wrote in acclaimed British MOJO magazine in May 2000, featuring the album in their "Homebrew" choice of "Grassroots" recordings deserving wider recognition.
And Kevin Jones is an excellent player, indeed. His precise and clear picking is deeply rooted in folk, country and blues stylings and provides the musical fundament for his storytelling. Naturally, the arrangements mostly feature small band arrangement with guitars, bass, drums and some backing vocals. But the occasional banjo, mandolin, fiddle and harmonica provide colors that are highly welcome, turning NOBODY'S FATHER into a nicely rounded effort that is low-key and intensely modest.
There are some album classics created by singer-songwriters that turn into mainstays of your musical biography. They stay with you because what they talk about rings true. They tend to have an atmosphere. This set of songs by Kevin Jones is just like that and reminds of genre classics such as early Murray McLaughlin, Paul Siebel, Joe Ely with traces of Norman Blake. NOBODY'S FATHER sometimes features the special kind of rootsy Midwestern atmosphere that can be found in John Prine's work and the laconic ways of Arlo Guthrie are in the mix as well. And when Kevin Jones sings lines like: "Life is one big walk until you lose your breath/You start out walking very young and walk yourself to death" you don't question him but agree instinctively....
What remains is the insight that for the most part the art of rootsy singer-songwriters seems to work best in a low-key kind of way. It's an artistic place quite a distance away from the niceness of folkiedom and the blandness of pop. NOBODY'S FATHER is Kevin Jones asking for some of our time. If you give it to this record, it might just turn into a companion and friend that will be around for a long time. A Desert Island Classic.
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