I admit it, I have a low tolerance for the typical country-blues twang, the music that has been homogenized to a pulp, then spit out to surface as only a slightly recognizable fraction of what originated the genre back in the day.

Sometimes, though, there are surprises lurking beneath those murky waters. While wading and sifting through, you may actually grab onto some verve and feel the beating pulse of something real underneath the gelatinous and stale state of country music.

Steve Jones has released a 12-song CD, “It’s Different Every Day,” in which he has proven there is still some vitality kickin’ around in this style of music. Jones is certainly not green to the local music scene, either: He’s part of the successful band The Boneheads, and has released solo recordings in the past.

Listening closely through the CD, I was impressed with Jones’ ability to grasp each song and create its own identity. All too often in this genre, I find myself itching for some diversity within the artists’ cache of tunes. I found it in Jones’ work. It is a cohesive blend of country, blues, folk and rock that is produced beautifully, but what keeps it sincere is Jones’ voice throughout. In a world where everything is perfectly produced to an error (in my opinion), Jones has figured out a way to keep it real.

One track that stands out is “Any Moment,” on which Jones is crooning, “I’m so tired of looking for what’s just out of reach.” The groovy beat and lyrics call out to anyone yearning for what’s concealed on the other side, what’s percolating beneath the surface of one’s own feelings of mediocracy. Another track, “This Mule’s a Kickin’,” is a kitschy, silly tune, bringing the listener to another place where Jones’ sense of humor shines through.

Steve Jones is at the peak of his game with “It’s Different Every Day,” yet there is a grounding force here, a peace that an artist only reaches when he has finally let go of certain ideas of pleasing anyone else with his craft. The heart of this CD is authentic, unpretentious and sure to please anyone with ears that need filling with some earnest tunes and feel-good country blues.

Kristin McClellan is a Portland freelance writer.

 


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