A Review of the JP Jones CD
"Thugs and Lovers"

"Thugs and Lovers"
by JP Jones

Copyright 2005
Vision Company Records

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 2/05
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"

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Love the title, don't you?

Like with his previous release "Jeremiah," JP Jones is back with another stripped-down, all-acoustic, a man, his guitar, telling-stories-in-his-head release. But there is one differerence. As enjoyable as "Jeremiah" was, "Thugs and Lovers" is even better So good, that it should be on many "Best of 2005" lists. It will be on mine.

The most apt comparison I can come up with for Jones is Greg Brown. In the writing and, at times, in the singing, he certainly could be mistaken for Brown. Sometimes the music is even early Dylan-esque. Yes, we're talking some mighty high company here.

A folk release, with elements of the blues, Jones' CD musically travels the path from contemptuous anger and scornful cynicism to greater self-awareness and finally, with the last cut, a degree of transformation. All is displayed through the prism of relationships.

One offering here, the anthem-like "a man stands up," is so good it will make you positively giddy. Worth the price of the CD alone, this inspirational and empowering song-guide simplifies all human interaction. Jones sings:
"when a sister's lost
when she's left behind
when a brother falls
on the hardest times
when a child's life
is on the line
a man stands up

with a tender heart
with an open mind
with a will to heal
where the world is blind
in the face of greed
and the party line
a man stands up..."
This one will remind listeners of Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down."

"Revelation" comes very close to matching the power and intensity of "a man stands up." Dramatically detailing the arc of a relationship, Jones takes the listener from the earliest beginning to the concluding torment of recurring guilt. The song ends with:
"...now all your days are haunted
by the ghosts
the ghosts you couldn't kill
the ones you never really wanted
the one you always will
the revelation of her soul
exploding in your path
she gave you everything except
the faith you never had."
The first half of the release contains the bitter and 'bluesey' focus. A verse from "not your business now" serves as a prime example: "we used to roll together, a couple of puppies in bed, tell each other our secrets, all the dreams in our head, sleep with who you want to, make love if you know how, who I'm wakin up with, it's not your business now..."

The Dylan-like tunes are "crawlin out of wakefield," "nothin like" and somebody who will." These could easily be included in Dylan's early songbook.

In "nothin like," Jones provides these evocative lines: "nothin like the beauty in my true love's eyes, nothin like the shining in the blue, blue sky, nothin like the feelin of her hand in mine, nothin like the shadow that she left behind..."

"somebody who will" starts with: "it's as clear as night and day baby, we just can't connect, I got too much to unload here, you got too much too protect..."

By the final cut, a degree of personal evolution or resolution has taken place:
"gotta second chance
got some work to do
gotta second chance
you can get one too
gotta second chance
more 'n I deserve
got my mind made up
I'm here to serve..."
So if you are seeking imagination, poetry and insight, then frolic in the continued unveiling of one of the best American singer-songwriters, JP Jones. He is a masterful songwriter.

Okay, I lied in my second paragraph, but just a bit. Jones accompanies himself on acoustic guitar AND rack harp.

Track List:

All songs by JP Jones.

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