JONES – Carver’s Law (MEME CDMM20)

Carver's LawThe title a reference to a maxim held by the writer Raymond Carver to give everything he had each day trusting that the well would be full again the next, Carver’s Law is Trevor Jones’ fifth solo album, one which features writing collaborations with Boo Hewerdine and David Bridie and musical input from multi-instrumentalist Gustaf Ljunggren and pedal steel maestro BJ Cole alongside long-standing musical partner and co-producer Marcus Cliffe.

As ever, it’s a reflective, meditative affair, the melodies usually anchored by piano, Jones vocals couched in his distinctive dreamily musing delivery, evocative rather than declarative, the album opening with the brief, sparse piano and violin-accompanied ‘Drinking Alone’, one of four Bridie co-writes, pondering whether solitude is better than the dangers fraught in sharing your feelings. The arrangement blossoms on ‘Coleman’s’ (which repeats the image of a rope), steel keening across the lush keyboard framework as, on a lyric exploring forgiveness, he asks “if you lit a candle/Whose name would you mumble?”. Should you be wondering, the title is another Carver reference, inspired by an account by his second wife, fellow writer Tess Gallagher, of an Irish restaurant she wanted to take him too but how he kept being distracted by a Wendy’s or a McDonald’s. They finally got there and the name became a synonym for whether their new poems or stories achieved what they out to do.

‘Have A Sunset On Me’, again complemented by pedal steel with Ljunggren texturing on sax, clarinet and flute, plays a similar thematic note, veined with closure and acceptance of a relationship run its course opening with the line “For want of something better/We went for something worse” and moving to “Seems the dreams that you discover/Were always there to see”.

French for the act of returning, ‘La Rentrée’ moves into waltztime territory on brushed snares for a song about memories, of “the debris of years washed up at my door” and of not being weighed down by the past, but to “try to forget to remember” and to take part in “the dance of the day”.

Featuring Bridie on piano and synth, ‘Gentle Down’ serves as a 56 second lullaby bridge into ‘Morning Pockets’, a song co-written with Hewerdine that has Jones paying tribute to the late British writer and critic AA Gill, acknowledging the influence (“a hounder, a helper, a crutch”) of his mastery of words as he sings “Another man’s pockets is where I belong”.

Indeed, Jones’ love of the poetry of words and their evocative power is manifested in the spoken’ Every Dream A Shadow’ which, contradictory to sentiments elsewhere, values the treasure of memories, of “the faces that have loved you” and of how “what you get is what you give”.

Opening with the sounds of ships’ bells, ‘Blackshore’ continues the thought with a simple fingerpicked number about inspiration, of drawing on experience, of “the beauty of it all” and “the blessings of the ‘in between’” in order to “turn your back to the shore” and move on to uncharted seas and create your own waves.

Another lullaby-flavoured number comes with ‘And The Moon Led Me Home. in which he acknowledges that “You’ve got to be lost to be found”, a reverie of home and hearth that references Rupert Brooke’s 1912 poem, The Old Vicarage, Grantchester, in its line about there being honey still for tea.

Opening with clarinet, at just over five minutes ‘What’ll I Do’ is the longest and most musically muscular track, Jones’ dramatic Meatloaf moment, an end of a relationship number that glories in going out in style (“If that was our goodbye then girl/It’s as good a goodbye as can be”) and how we only tend to see things clearly when it’s too late.

Bridie on piano, it’s back to the sounds of water with the words-tumbling ‘Le Mercury’, an observation of two lovers in a moment of emotional crisis (“She is pale, he is tanned/Seems nothing is going as planned”) and the resolution to go with the figurative dance (another recurring image), giving away to another piano-backed spoken number, ‘Dust In My Throat’, that again addresses the theme of memory and the ghosts that he can never let rest in peace, “a box of dead crows he can never release”. Once again, the resolution here delivered in an almost Shakespearean declaration, is to learn from the lessons life teaches and that “Nothing is settled/ If nothing is lost”.

Two short pieces, Cliffe’s piano instrumental ‘Hook and Tumble’ and the closing piano, cello and violin epiphany ‘Woebegone’, which returns to the conclusion of the opening track, sandwich the country-tinged, steel yearning, hymnal waltzing ‘Folderol’, a bittersweet song of “all the hurt that kindness brings”, of lovers grown apart (“I’m for whiskey, you’re for wine”) and of holding on when you should be letting go, not of parting in anger but a goodbye “light as a sparrow”.

Tender, compassionate, sad and veined with hope for better tomorrows, it’s yet another album from an artist who remains frustratingly little known and underappreciated. Here he’s poured out the best of what he has, but we can rest assured that the spring will replenish because, as he says, “I have a song/That will keep singing/Until the darkness has gone”.

Mike Davies

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Artist’s website: www.jones16.bandcamp.com/ / www.miraclemile.co.uk/

‘Every Dream A Shadow’ – official video:

Jones announces his new solo album, Carver’s Law

Jones

As one half of Miracle Mile, Trevor ‘Jones’ released nine albums of beautiful, literate pop music, the last of which, In Cassidy’s Care, was issued in 2012. He’s a master songwriter, the type that worries beauty into shapes and sounds that unfurl with repeated listening. Together with musical partner and arranger Marcus Cliffe they collected a bouquet of critical acclaim that continues to flower in Jones’ solo career. Carver’s Law is his fifth solo outing, though Cliffe is never far away, helping to produce, record, arrange and play on every one;

Hopeland (2009); Keepers (2010); To The Bone (2014) and Happy Blue (2016). Like King Arthur under his hill, Jones waits patiently for the public to recognise what some of us knew from the start.

In the meantime, we have this wonderful collection and an opportunity to share it.

Avail yourself of a quality malt and an hour of me-time; 2019 marks the return of Jones with his fifth solo album, Carver’s Law. The result of soul-searching on the Suffolk coast and collaborations with Boo Hewerdine and David Bridie, Carver’s Law is another offering of classic songwriting from an artist who breathes the rarefied air of the unsung hero. Cut Jones and he bleeds quality.

What do we want from an artist? Are they duty bound to inform, educate, entertain? Do they dissemble, put words into the mouths of fictional characters that shoulder their creator’s burden, or is the contract approved with read-between-the-lines clauses that swap comfort zones for the twilight variety, the uncertain half-light where you trust images in the corner of your eye more than those you can stare at?

Should they hollow themselves out for us, such that we spend hours listening to their pain as it circles our turntable? In truth, we demand all of this and more. When we get it, it can be beyond anything we dared hope for and hope, like need, is a dangerous master. Carver’s Law is such a record, a long-player of profound beauty, where words twist and tumble like the first leaves of Autumn, coming to rest amongst layers of effortless melody like weary travellers. Here are acutely observed vignettes on life, death and everything that matters in-between. The anticipation of hope, the shadow of fear, doubt and self-analysis, and the slow slow, quick quick slow passing of time. A nervous energy frames these songs, one born of hard won knowledge and experience. The ability to articulate our deepest sorrows, desires, happiness and heartbreaks is a gift.

Carver’s Law is shot through with spirits bottled and biographical, often half full, always haunted, never less than 100% proof.Drink up; time is short and the water is rising. – Paul Woodgate

Artist’s website: http://www.miraclemile.co.uk/

Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront 


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