Stone Jack Jones: Bluefolk

Stone Jack Jones

If there was one word to describe Bluefolk, Stone Jack Jones’ second album in a series of three, it would be “tired” – and not merely as an adjective, but as a theme. “Tired” as in an old homeless man sitting alone in the rain, slowly mumbling phrases such as “bury me beneath the tree of peace and love and understanding – beneath the broken tree.” Jones himself grew up in a West Virginia coal-mining town, where his dad, grandpa, etc. had been miners, and his dad told him not to carry on the family tradition. So he picked up his fiddle and guitar and started walking.

This biography is relevant here because Jones’ music truly reflects his life roaming the Eastern United States – a brooding folky Appalachian rock with dark American undertones. On “Freedom,” against a background of Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking, Jones sings, “Take these bullets that you gave me, thrown them nearby where you lay me. Watch them grow while you’re sleeping, watch you waken, watch you weeping.”

Chance run-ins with other musicians such as Patty Griffin (who contributes to a few songs on Bluefolk) and producer Roger Moutenot (Sleater Kinney/Lou Reed) gave Jones the musical and professional support he needed. Reed’s influence also shows in Jones’ weathered, weary voice and artistic sounds (instruments include haunted electric guitars, electric guitar played with a pencil, and a flashlight). Jones excels at developing a tired, honest sound that doesn’t try to copy any particular musician but reveals influences of many. With a caustically realistic portrayal of rural America, he’s written a dark and mesmerizing album.