JP Jones – Life and Death

JP Jones
Life and Death

Though JP Jones has always been nestled somewhere in the folk genre for each of his nine releases, Life and Death is not an album for folk purists. That isn’t because this release doesn’t fall under the umbrella of folk music, but it’s because the music here is different than a lot of Jones’ previous work. Life and Death is also the first of JP’s albums to feature his full electric touring band, Rite Tite – complete with two drummers, violin, bass, keyboards, and electric guitar. This definitely affects the music and the tracks here are full of texture and depth.
What you get on Life and Death is a mixture of styles that reflect not only the songwriting, but the album’s theme of opposites. Fans of mellow singer-songwriter styles like Bruce Springsteen or Eric Clapton will likely dig JP’s efforts. It’s no surprise then that JP’s voice reminds me a lot of Bruce Springsteen with that gritty everyman quality. Unlike Jones’ previous effort, Salvation Street, this album was recorded live in a studio so it doesn’t have that same in-the-rough element to it, but it’s still quite fluid and organic sounding.
The songs on Life and Death run the gamut from upbeat to mellow, introspective to lighthearted, and just about everything in between. Album opener “Cum a Live” takes on sexuality, government, religion and more with lyrics like “would you burn the flag, would you hit your kid cause he was a fag? if the government decrees it?” “What in God’s Name” takes a path reminiscent of reggae while “Flat Black Cadillac” has a bluesy rock feel. “Killer Instinct” is more aggressive guitar driven rock while “The Last Song” is more relaxed folk-rock. This track is where my favorite lyrics of the album are, as Jones sings about the life of a musician, “This is the last song I ever will write, I’m so bored stiff with myself but here’s a dollar that says every one of my friends will all beg me to write something else.”
JP Jones is a seasoned poet who just happens to create his poetry not only with words penned on paper, but his voice and instruments. While the music here won’t appeal to absolutely everyone, those who love genre blurring music will find something appealing on Life and Death. Overall, it’s an eclectic but solid showing that demonstrates just how much Jones has evolved since his last release.