on 12 March 2014
Laurence’s debut album was released to considerable acclaim in 2012 and deservedly so. However, that acclaim may have been tempered by the fact this was a very young man right at the start of his career and would he be able to deliver the goods on a consistent basis. Wind the clock forward to March 2014 and Laurence has just released his new album ‘Temptation.’ Any evidence of that common affliction of ‘second album syndrome’ here, unequivocally ‘no’ is my clear answer.
Two years is a snapshot in time but it is evident that Laurence has taken every aspect of his persona to another level within this timeframe. It was obvious from the outset that the young man had a true gift for playing the guitar but here he shows a really grown up understanding of how to use his talent and the instrument to best effect. The spectrum of his playing is expanded significantly and the techniques on display are mightily impressive. Being such a talent it would be easy to make the guitar and Laurence’s ability with it the focus of every song. Throughout the 12 tracks on the album Jones demonstrates the understanding that the guitar and what he can emit from it, is a component of the overall package that he presents. Important of course but not the sole dominant factor. Jones’s song writing has matured significantly too; it is deeper in subject matter and nicely varied. Serious in parts and fun and playful in others. It is however, the voice that for me shows the greatest improvement. Laurence now demonstrates a cool authority in his voice that enables him to tackle songs diverse in nature and tone. It may be just growing up physically or it may be by hard work or a combination of both but the voice is now deep enough to claim the territory when needed, with a nice rasp that is so much a feature of the Blues.
The above may already be enough for some folk to take the plunge and by the album. If so, I am happy and that is a good call on your part.
However, let me whet your appetite more and convince you that you need to explore this album. Laurence has been nurtured and encouraged by none other than Blues legend Walter Trout. The great man has spent time with the kid and taken him on tour more than once. Seeing the two play together, as I have, it is clear Walter is not merely paying lip service to a nice and talented young man. Trout is genuine in his praise and you can see when they play he is urging Jones to stretch himself in his playing and the confidence to take the limelight. Indeed on the album cover Trout is quoted; ‘Laurence Jones is a cross between Eris Clapton and Buddy Guy. He is a genius.’ High praise indeed and a badge to inspire not overawe.
To record the new album Laurence was invited, yes invited to Louisiana by new label Ruf Records to record the album with another legend, Mike Zito to produce. The plot thickens nicely, as Jones was joined for the whole album by Royal Southern Brotherhood’s stellar rhythm section, Yonrico Scott on drums and Charlie Wootton on bass. Now these guys may be nice fellas but they would not waste time with average talent.
A read of Mike Zitos’ notes on the sleeve is hugely interesting and reveals how Jones has blossomed under Zito’s tutelage. Zito describes meeting a talented young man unaware of his collective talent; in Zito’s words Jones thought he was just a guitar player. It appears there was a little issue going on before Jones walked in to the studio next morning and said he was up for doing it Zito’s way and make a real record.
And what you now have here folks is the product of that work. A real record in every sense of the word. There is more than enough here to satisfy a true Blues fan, there is equally more than enough to please a rock fan that loves guitar and giant rhythms. Finally and perhaps most tellingly, there is ample here for the legion of fans of the vibrant contemporary Blues Rock genre. A group that this listener slots right into.
Throughout the twelve tracks Jones illuminates everything with his big bold guitar playing and his new found voice. The rhythm section of Scott and Wootton is right on the money and there are first rate guests slots for Harmonica wizard Johnny Sansome, Zito on piano and long-time road buddy Ansley Lister. The song selection and order is impressive and no doubt testament to Zito’s experience as the album flows cleanly and effortlessly between the genres described above.
The opening two tracks, Foolin Me and Move On are firmly planted at the rock end of Jones’s spectrum, Both burst from the speakers on a driving groove, heavy hooks and tight riffs and a couple of vicious piercing solos. Laying down a confident marker.
Tomorrow is Another Day is the first step in to clear Blues territory and the first appearance of Sansome. The rhythm section holds a rock solid melody whilst the two front men both combine and trade some searing licks. Jones provides the high point of the song with a taut but clipped solo.
The title track is another Blues infused number structured on a looped Jones riff, a pounding beat that underpins Jones’ pacey vocal. Lifted higher by another razor sharp but clipped solo.
Can’ Keep Living Like This sees the band hit the accelerator again and deliver a metronomic groove and a boisterous Jones riff, hard edged vocal before Jones carves it all open with a real stinging string bending solo.
Whiskey in the Wind is almost an amps off affair and where Zito steps in to share the load. The two hotshots combine to brilliant effect, Zito displaying some dextrous finger picking on the acoustic while Jones winds in and out of the melody with equally deft fret work on his Strat. The result with the earnest lyric and vocal delivery is a moody soulful tune of the highest order.
Fall From the Sky is just choc full of insanely catchy riffs, grinding drum and bass runs and a strident vocal. Throw in a monster chorus and you have a potential single and radio friendly number.
My Eyes Keep Me In Trouble is a song Jones probably would not have been capable of delivering two years ago. This is a Blues tune in every aspect. Honky tonk keys from Zito set the pace, matched effortlessly in the engine room of Scott and Wootton. And Jones literally jumps all over the foundations with a combination solo of tight high end chords and some serious slide work. The lyrics are mighty cool too but need to come from a man not a boy. And here Jones is a man regaling with power and depth the loveable roguish charm of a real Blues man, hot after the ladies.
Sothern Breeze may become most people’s favourite track on the album and it is a corker. This is a slice of real Southern Boogie and has strong hints of the Zito influence. The rhythm section pump out a massive wall of sound that is then melded together with Jones’s urgent licks resulting in an irresistible sound that will have you tapping feet and hands.
As the album draws to a close there is time for more out and out Blues, Wind Me Up barrels along on the back of a solid bass beat, searching Hammond organ flurries and more confident lead breaks from Jones. Bad Bad Dream is atmospheric, Wootton pushing out a constant reverberating bass line that Laurence matched with hard riffs that he then draws out into a distorted bruising solo.
The album closer Soul Swamp Blues is a fitting end to this terrific album. As the title implies swamp by name, swamp by sound. This is low down and ballsy Blues as it should be. Deep Bass and drum score that provides Sansome and Jones with a platform to slug it out with scorching solos and some powerful combination breaks.
An impressive album for an impressive talent. Temptation will surely see Laurence Jones rise up in to the higher echelons of the Blues Rock Premiership. That is where he deserves to be.
on 17 March 2014
So, RUF label debut from one of their most recent alumni and a much anticipated release. Thing is, I can't make my mind up about it. certainly, there's no doubting Laurence's playing ability, and I think Mike Zito has shoved his arm down Laurence's throat and pulled up a surprisingly powerful voice; combine that with a multi-Grammy winning rhythm section and guest spots by a couple of legend guitar-slingers and it should be a recipe for a great album.
But somehow I don't feel it. Things start off in fine fettle, with the charging Foolin' Me, but where Move On should echo that, for me it's at least 30s too long and I'm wishing it would, Move On. Walter Trout is on fiery form on the title track, and Aynsley provides some laser sharp licks to Wind Me Up. Summer Breeze is already a "live" staple, but I think It's going to take a "live" show and a few more playings of the album to bed it in for me. It may be that Laurence has made a stellar jump in his game and I'm lagging behind, but on a 2nd or 3rd play-through, aside from the Wind Me Up track, it's almost as if they're reaching for an "American" sound and leaving behind the British roots.
As I said, I can't fault Laurence's singing or playing, the songs are well rounded, the backing band is surely a dream; it should get 5Stars but I can only give 4.
on 19 April 2014
Having seen Laurence Jones live I thought at the time that he would have been huge had he been around in 1968/9. I then went home and downloaded this album. Over a year later all I can say is that he must have been better live as I can no longer listen to this. perhaps that's it, he is a live performer rather than a victim of the mixing desk. It all sounds rather unnatural on this album, like he's so consumed with trying to get the music right that he goes and gets the emotional input wrong. It's O.K but, using an analogy, it is a bit like an artist who can create a good painting then going and filling in a 'painting by numbers' picture book
on 7 April 2014
As good as the first album is, with the release of Temptation, Mr Jones has emphatically stamped his mark as a great artist. His signing for Ruf has given him the chance to broaden his cv, and it is evident he has grasped the opportunity with both of his very talented hands!
Catch him live, buy this album - you will not regret either!
on 8 May 2014
I have seen Laurence 4 times over the last couple of years and his progression both as a guitarist and singer is astounding.
Ruf records have nurtured this talent to produce an excellent album which builds on Thunder In the Sky opening with Foolin' Me , Move On & Tomorrow's Another Day all setting a fine standard.
Walter Trout joins in on the title track whilst Aynsley Lister trades licks on Wind Me Up
I particularly like Fall From The Sky and Southern Breeze and the tracks Laurence showcased live a couple of weeks ago came over really we'll. A very good album worth a spin