To the Bone: Reviews: Roots and Branches: Steve Morris
I’ve had a copy of this record for ages now, so long it’s become a first choice ‘go to’ when I need music to stir the senses. It’s been with me soundtracking train journeys through English landscapes both lashed by rain and painted in pre-summer sun and it’s been ideal for both.
Jones – Trevor Jones, one half of the mighty Miracle Mile – is both a deft lyricist and composer with a beguiling ability to find a commonality in his personal situations and to then couch it in both words and tunes that, to borrow his title get right ‘to the bone’. And if that suggests a mood of reflection throughout the record, it’s spot on. Jones addresses friendships, relationships and the fragility of life itself within these fourteen songs often provoking a strong emotional / cerebral response with a phrase or observational angle that hits home in the listener. Indeed a damp eye has almost become a hallmark response to new works from the man.
Stylistically, it’s easy to draw comparisons to Paul Buchanan and Paddy McAloon, both artists who’ve similarly refined and distilled their craft over the years but it’s also possible to find glimpses of other craftsmen in these songs. Indeed the work of Johnny Mercer / Henry Mancini is alluded to a couple of times towards the end of the record.
One thing that can be easily overlooked is just how fine a singer Jones is; it’s a very English soulful sound he makes, not great in a classic vocal sense but emotionally available and intimately fragile, both great and rare qualities. It helps that Miracle Mile partner and producer Marcus Cliffe captures this with breathtaking clarity. And speaking of Cliffe, mention must be made too of the gorgeous textures he weaves behinds Jones’ vocals and the excellent sonic quality he brings to their work. Spotlight too on Melvin Duffy whose pedal steel and dobro filigrees are a joy throughout.
What is perhaps most astonishing is that Trevor Jones, whether solo or as a part of Miracle Mile, has released some sixteen or so albums to date with each being a genuine step forward from the last. One reviewer has already tagged this one the best yet – until the next! And I really can’t add anything to that except to say that this is a genuine gem that you really do need to hear – often.