With the tightening of social knots around the holidays, it’s nice to have a simple, trusty record around to loosen up with. Steve Jones’ retrospective “Dreamer’s Blues” has just that effect — a group of old friends laying it down with few surprises, but steady bluesy bounce. As a guitarist for The Boneheads, Jones developed a creative and dynamic guitar presence, which here acts as every track’s secret weapon. Besides bailing a couple of tunes out, Jones’ lead gives the collection a nicely unified sound.

The title track has the strongest hook in the bunch, built on a gospel groove and featuring Jones with a catchy, easy-going lyric. If Mark Knopfler’s soul is Steve Jones’ fastball, he’s got a great change-up in hay-bale acoustic country. “You Leave Me Lonely” would kill at a campfire, and as always on “Dreamer’s Blues,” the engineering and arranging give the songwriter a great foundation to build on.

Jones is no Townes Van Zandt, and sometimes these songs suffer from too many words. Rather then taking the sure route of basic, light melodies to build songs around, the verses and choruses can drag their feet, as in the pushy-in-a-bad way “Teams-and-Flags.” If Jones and his able, merry band demanded less in terms of exposition, his audience would more readily lend their willing bodies and ears to the cause.

Mike Olcott is a freelance writer who lives in Portland and Boston.


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