Jacob Jones has a musical personality disorder that makes him a surprisingly awesome artist. His new album Good Timin’ in Waynetown has the remarkable ability to sound like four of five different subgenres of music. Most notably, Jones is an American musician with clear blues roots that influence most of his work, but it can sound like everything from country to Motown.
“Play it loud, Ray” makes a reference to Ray Charles… I thought. Surely this bluesy album is making a cap nod toward a key influence. But then the song sounds like it might be from the streets of New Orleans. The following track, “Good Timin’ in Waynetown” is about going out for a night town. The horns fill the background of a blues standard song structure. It’s a decent pop blues song that you can dance to; so it works.
But then… we have “Lost on the Ohio,” a song that immediately moved to my top songs of 2013 list. From the first piano plinks I was certain I loved the song. Jones’s vocals sound like Justin Townes Earle. Even the way he says “Ohio” sounds like he’s been hanging with JTE. The strings in the background are reminiscent of the 1970s big-studio albums of the mainstream country world. It’s a really, really beautiful song about the Ohio River… more specifically about that detached “time is no object” feeling of floating down a river. Fantastic.
Jones follows the beautiful ballad about the Ohio River with a honkytonk dance tune “My Girl Is Sweeter Than Yours.” It starts with fiddles and makes listeners want to dance… spurs not included. The countrified fiddles in the background and Jones’s uniquely country intonation on this track make it a great song, but very different than the rest of the album. In one sense, I really liked the song and wanted a whole album like it rather than one outlier on an otherwise bluesy album.
“Nothin’ is Gonna Bring Me Down” is another alt country tune that could have come right off of a Dwight Yoakam album. “You don’t need to be a rich man to know how to paint the town.” It’s got some humor and a lot of fun in it. It’s about hitting a rough patch in life, but still knowing how to party. It is, in some ways, the anti country song. I suppose that’s why it’s alt country. The piano is phenomenal, so props to that guy or gal.
So after that rousing tune I expected a turn towards a mostly alt country album. I was wrong. Instead I found another gorgeous “song of the year” style ballad called “Don’t Cry for Me.” It honestly sounds like it could have come right out of Ray Charles’s discography. “When I’m gone… don’t cry for me.” The chords are gospel, the singing is almost soul, and the overall flavor is romantic. It’s a wonderful song that encourages a slow dance, for sure.
“Tennessee Highway” is a piano gem that puts listeners in the mind of Jerry Lee Lewis or Chuck Berry. In fact I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear that the chords are almost straight from “Johnny B Good.” That’s no insult. I don’t fault other artists for borrowing Beatles structures. I think the song just shows the crazy variety present on Jones’s album.
No one will accuse this album of being myopic or overly repetitive. In one sense I’d like to hear Jones find his own “niche” within all that he does. In another sense this is absolutely the kind of album that you could put on at a party of mixed company and everyone could find something to dance to. The song themes focus on love and parties. There’s nothing too deep as to offend. It’s just a good truly entertaining album. I get the sense Jones would be a great show to see live. Jones (or your people) if you get up this way to Ohio/PA give me a shout out. It’s always good to meet with distant family.