Tuesday, October 7, 2014


I find blues albums sound best driving around in my car, so that's where I started with JW's latest.  It's rare an album SOUNDS so good that I can't focus on the rest of it at first, but I was quite simply blown away by the overall aural experience.  All the tones, the mix, the soundscape that the team creates, from artist to band to producer to engineer to mastering engineer, all that stuff we mortals only vaguely comprehend, it all works here.  Just to insure I wasn't simply on a caffeine high (that happens a lot), the disc moved from my car to home system to work computer, and each time it was the sound that leaped out first.

That's a great start, but would also be kinda frustrating if the material didn't hold up.  After all the initial listens, I got to the point where the songs came through, and of course, Jones came through.  The Ottawa native has been one of the country's very top artists since his arrival in 2000, and its been a joy to watch his confidence and art grow with each release.  This one puts him up another significant notch though.  Now signed to the respected U.S. blues label and industry leader Blind Pig, Jones worked with producer Tom Hambridge on this album.  The Grammy-winning drummer and songwriter was the producer for the last couple of highly-successful Buddy Guy albums, produced Susan Tedeschi's breakthrough album, and has dozens of equally-impressive writing and production credits.  Lets just say given the dynamic sound I've tried to describe above, it was an inspired choice for Jones.  Plus, if you work with Hambridge, you have access to his pen as well.  Belmont Boulevard features of mix of Jones' originals, Hambridge cuts, some new co-writes, and an older Guy number, What's Inside Of You, where Jones shows his sharp and stinging guitar prowess.  Hambridge brought a new, funky number written with Colin Linden, Love Times Ten, a tight tune that shows off Jones' frontman skills.

The new Jones songs show how he's advanced as a writer.  Thank You turns the tables on the woman-done-me-wrong blues cliches, where the singer admits she was doing him a favour, that the love was gone.  Blue Jean Jacket celebrates that coat we all loved and had our best moments in.  What Would Jimmie Do? tells about a blues hero who does it with style and commitment and all the right motives, and for Jones, that's Jimmy Vaughn.  These are all original, strong ideas, something of a rare commodity in blues writing.  And for those who just want guitar and more guitar, his Magic West Side Boogie brings the instrumental fireworks, just bass, drums and one long sizzling, echo-drenched lead.  A-level stuff across the board from Jones, but what sound!  Just lean back and listen.

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