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John Jones Rising Road Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

An intense, and intensely satisfying, solo venture from the Oysterband man

Sid Smith 2009

Rooted in a love of landscape, following pathways both ancient and modern with a mix of traditional tunes and original compositions, John Jones has turned in an impressive, satisfying collection.

Part of the motivation for this album came from Jones' decision to walk from the Welsh borders where he lives to an Oysterband event in Leicester. That's very nearly a couple of hundred miles. Clearly such a decision was not only good for his carbon footprint but also creative inspiration, if Rising Road is anything to go by.

Away from the riotous energies of his Oysterband day job, Jones cuts something of reflective figure on the dark opener Let Me Fall: “Killing myself with mockery, I lose myself with the power of the word. I hide myself in vanity, one more cry that can not be heard.”

Moving between rural and urban environments, between emotional states of loss and acquisition and spiritual and temporal worlds, has awarded the album with some genuinely artistic achievements that slip beyond the usual furrows Jones could be expected to travel.

One such effort is Walking Through Ithonside. With a majestically swaggering chorus that would surely reach to the rafters of stadiums were it ever to escape the niche leash of the folk word, it may well be the best song REM never wrote.

Seth Lakeman and Oysterband confederates Alan Prosser (guitars) and Dil Davies (drums) are amongst those providing sure-handed support, and Al Scott's gently eclectic production completes an intense – and intensely satisfying – solo venture.

Working in the surreal circus of the music industry for over 30 years with the Oysterband has to have been something of an education for those canny enough to pick up on its lessons. John Jones' writing implies he's been able to keep his feet on the ground in more ways than one.

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