LAURENCE JONES Thunder In the Sky Proper PROCD001 (2012)
Such is the glut of young rocking blues bands today that it's no longer the case that teen bands like Laurence Jones will automatically receive an over enthusiastic reception simply by virtue of their youth. Happily this presents no problem for the 19 year old guitarist, who eloquently works his way through a riff driven album full of well crafted mature rock blues.
Classically trained and with a band oozing as much confidence as their fiery leader, Laurence Jones wears his influences on his sleeve. And much like his contemporaries Virgil & The Accelerators, he transforms the past into the future and something uniquely his own. Listen for example to the insistent urgency and simple but effective hook of 'Not Sticking Around' and you can hear the perfect meeting of rock-blues with a pop sensibility, punk energy and understated dynamics.
As with the album as a whole there's an ever present sense of balance, and having referenced the past they leap back into the present on the funky 'Too Good' - which is Oli Brown in all but name - and then explore a mellower groove on 'Why Do You Love Me'
Sometimes only Laurence's vocals betray his tender years, but he never forces a vocal line, contenting himself to add a gruffer growl on the rhythmically interesting 'Gotta Get Back Up' and he is smart enough to occasionally add harmony vocals for emphasis.
'Thunder in the Sky' is more than just another rock-blues album because of its sense of space, its lofty ambitions, the underlying grasp of light and shade and the integral shot of creativity at the core of an impressive 10 track debut. All those elements combine to give the album an essential flow as evidenced by the contrasting shift from the rumbustious shuffle of 'Put A Spell On Me' to the acid test of the slow blues title track. And it is here that Laurence really steps into his own as he aligns his deft touch and warm tone with cool dynamics and whispered vocals over a drifting organ part. It's subtly delivered blues that broods with intent and makes its point before gently drifting into the ether.
The album finishes with a guitar feast on the self penned 'Going Down' (not to be confused with the oft covered Don Nix song), slipping from dirt sounding slide and fiery incisive soloing to a wah wah avalanche, via a processed voice and a feral scream. Clearly Laurence Jones is a wise musical head on young shoulders and 'Thunder in the Sky' is an excellent start to a very promising career and worth five stars if only to make you stand up and take notice.
interview by Pete Feenstra
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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty
damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly
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