CD REVIEW: Laney Jones - Golden Road
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Artist: Laney Jones
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Alternative Folk, Psychedelic Soul
Technical Grade: 9/10
Weakness: Give the Harmonica a break, more vocal harmonies, overwhelming vocal power
Steeped in the traditions of folk, jazz, and rock and roll, Laney Jones mixes a musical cocktail with a vintage flavor that’s all her own. Honing her craft and effortlessly welcoming stage presence in coffeehouses, speakeasies, and concert venues across the United States, this scrappy Americana singer-songwriter is making a name for herself as a fresh, lyrically creative artist. Her distinctive voice has been described as “a mix of lemon, molasses, gin and gunpowder*,” mellifluous and smooth but brimming with passion. This latest CD entitled “golden Road” was released in 2013.
The CD takes flight with the methodical “Broken Hearts” a methodical intro ditty that serves up impassioned vocal feel from Jones meshed with impressive Harmonica served up against well placed Americana fretwork, earthy musical touches against a hooky, grand slam chorus. Track 2 “Devil Down” downshifts a bit with its methodical piano driven intro eventually lending itself into an impressive “Gold Standard” ballad that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. Track 3 “”Black Coffee” keeps thing moving in the right direction with its infectious melody, steady flowing rhythm and heartfelt/thought provoking message. The CD makes a great first impression dashing out 3 solid tracks in a row. I would classify this music as Alternative Folk, with a dash of Americana and even Alternative Folk. Also present are unique elements of what I would call Alternative-Psychedelic Soul. All in all the CD touches a wide range of musical styles. Besides the four piece standard you will notice impressive instrumentation with things like impressive Harmonica, Kazoo, Americana Fretwork, Banjo, Fiddles, guitar and solo guitar, sporadic keyboard and organ accents, well-placed harmonies, sporadic percussion all built upon a solid moog driven rhythm section to boot. The musicianship and musical touches from Jones/Tonner and company are clearly above the bar. The following made a contribution: Laney Jones (vocals, Banjo, Ukulele, Harmonica, Kazoo), Matthew Tonner (Acoustic Guitar, Vocals) David Vanegas (Bass Guitar, Bass Fiddle), Tommy Shugart (Solo Guitar, Cello), Paul Terry (Drums), Chelsea Appel (Background Vocals), Daniel Flick, (Fiddles, Mandolin, Justin Braun (Djembe, Tambourine, Shaker). As for her vocal abilities, it works extremely well within the confines of this catalogue. She’s got a good look, a catchy mystique and knows how to sit deep within the pocket and sing a song with amazing vocal fluidity. Jones has soul. Her voice fills the space with an infectious jagged edge swagger. Jones showcases an impressive tonal range and has much in the way of power. As a songwriter: the songwriting consistent and rock solid across the board. The harmonies and melodies are well placed and well crafted. Tonner’s contribution as well as from al aforementioned members is huge’ music. All the Engineering aspects are in check (Recording, Mixing, and Mastering) as the CD possesses solid low end punch and crystal clear high end clarity. The multi-instrumentalist approach from the Tonner/Jones dream team is rock solid and delivers everything you would expect from a top-tiered musical Production such as this providing much in the way of musical variety and melodic Americana fretwork. It definitely offers has a lot of musical depth and variety within the sonic space. The music of Laney Jones reminds me of a combination between Indigo Girls. Sophie B. Hawkins, Jann Arden, Amanda MacLean, Amanda Marshall and Fionna Apple. All songs are well crafted and consistent across the board. By track 5 the CD hits solid stride dishing out the strongest territory of the CD. From the striking "Child of the Beast" to rock steady "Rock-a-Bye All" to carefree "Nothing at all" this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 10 “Livin for Today" the perfect finale statement for a CD like this.
Track 1 feels like an incomplete statement to me. I wish Jones used more vocal harmonies more - either with herself or other band members to mix up the vocal delivery a bit better. The harmonies theta are there don't stand out as much as I Would like them to. It's fair to say Jones comes on a bit to strong vocally ala round. There's a time and place for vocal power, Jones elects to place it everywhere and it's a bit overbearing on the senses. I recommend McCloud step back from the mic a bit especially during the slower parts of her music, find that emotional pocket and dial down the intensity and vocal power a bit. This will add more peak and valley to the vocal delivery, more compatible with the flow and ebb of the music. As a result the music lacks effective “vocal” peak and valley comparable to a BOLD FONT of melody across the board. CD is a bit short with just 10 Tracks -perhaps 2-3 more songs are needed to make this a fully loaded release.
From start to finish "Golden Road” by Laney Jones delivers the psychedelic mojo and is a consistently uplifting 10 Track release from start to finish. The music is diverse, grooving, upbeat, soulful and sonically entertaining. The songwriting – all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair and signature groove. The writing, playing and singing abilities of Laney Jones and her counterpart Matthew Tonner blew me away. Their amazing approach to songwriting and multi instrumentation is something millions of people should gravitate towards.
Cyrus Rhodes Rhodes