If there is one thing that’s a constant in the local music scene, it’s the imaginative and steady authenticity that Portland’s Steve Jones exudes with fortitude.
In the music business for many years, Jones has delivered another little gem to the public: “Listening,” a new album with the same voice and archetype of his last CD, but with its individual shiny, polished snippets.
If you’ve ever taken a road trip across America with a good friend and had one of the naturally ensuing, marathon heart-to-hearts that inevitably occurs, you’ve already got a decent feel for how the album sweeps along. Jones incorporates many influences — including folk, Americana, rock, country and blues — into his musical scenery.
Bob Coldwell, multi-instrumentalist bandmate and co-producer with Jones, also did an excellent job of taking musical snapshots as engineer. It’s impressive how the two of them managed to keep all 13 songs both cohesive and clean, considering that the band, which also employs the rhythmic skills of drummer Ginger Cote, uses many different personalities in its expression.
In one moment, Steve is crooning about why a woman could be kind to such a wretched soul as himself; the next moment the band is rockin’ and rollin’ — “Who in the world are you talking to?” In another tune, Cote kicks up a swampy groove while Jones dishes out the type of candor you wish you’d hear on the street more often, with lyrics like “there’s a monkey in my mind looking for ruin, he won’t be happy until there’s trouble brewing” — the type of humble admission that can’t help but endear him to his listeners.
On the title track and “One Mistake at a Time,” Jones’ vocal delivery takes on a more boldly human complexion to match the lyrical content, and they smash home the point that this collection of tunes is not just a mere product, but a true traveling companion. It surges forth in “Looking Forward to the Next Bad Thing,” a tune that needn’t actually say anything more than that as Jones plays some twangy guitar.
Jones and bandmates have successfully created, produced and engineered a fine piece of artistic expression. Their new CD moves hearts and minds with honest, catchy lyrics and an entertaining style sure to get you “Listening.”
Kristin DiCara-McClellan is a local freelance writer. She can be reached at: