Brian Ashley Jones
'Out Of The City'
Brian Ashley Jones is a soulful singer, acclaimed guitarist and versatile touring songwriter whose twang and blues guitar-driven tunes have found their way into film and television and have been recorded by many other performing artists. He performs internationally at festivals, concert series, clubs, music education programs and music conferences.
Brian's 2007 release, 'Courier', made the Top 40 of the Roots Music Report, broke the Top 100 of the Americana Music Association's album chart, and has received widespread commercial, college, public and international radio play. The swampy instrumental "Pull 'Em Up" has been featured in the widely acclaimed PBS television series 'Road Trip Nation' and "Free To Miss You" has been featured in the British ITV2 network television show 'Amanda Holden's Fantasy Lives'. A 'Special Edition' of this album got a European release in 2012 and that's how we first heard Brian's music! He kept it quite simple there, playing guitar himself, with Mark Van Allen (dobro) and Tisha Simeral (upright bass, vocals).
His guitar chops and relentless touring earned him a nomination for Best American Roots Guitar Player in the Alternate Root's 2011 Reader's Choice Awards. Brian has accompanied a diverse batch of artists on stage and in the recording studio including Jon Vezner, Caroline Aiken, Sara Hickman, Corinne West, Jeff Black, Jerry Foster, Eric Heatherly, Thom Shepherd, Donna Hopkins, David Gans, Doug Jones, Donovan Roberts, Diane Durrett, Ralph Roddenbery, Deep Blue Sun, Celeste Krenz, Wyatt Easterling and Spuyten Duyvil. He is in the music business for the long haul!
Brian Ashley Jones is originally from the Greenville and Spartanburg area of South Carolina. He lives in East Nashville, Tennessee since 2002. While this neighborhood lacks the glitziness of Lower Broadway, Music Row or other nearby tourist destinations, it's been bursting at the seams with creative types for the past decade. “If you're really serious about music, this is where you want to be,” said Brian to 'Goupstate', sitting in a coffeehouse near his home. “Living here, there are so many opportunities to collaborate with people that I admire and respect. There's just so much talent here - so many great songwriters and other musicians... It's just such a creative space to be in. I love being here.” Before his move, he had shuffled back and forth between Music City and Atlanta for several years. In Nashville, Brian has done everything from session instrumental work to writing and performing his own material. He said the eclectic nature of his music can be traced back to the artists he enjoyed as a youth, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, the Eagles, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Spartanburg's own Marshall Tucker Band.
"Music is what I'm supposed to be doing, and I can't imagine doing anything else. And most every other songwriter or musician I know who's done it this long pretty much has the same attitude... We just all feel compelled to do it, even when it defies logic.”
1. "See You Wasting Time": Opening with the potential hit song, old school but still a very smart move. An uptempo soulful swinging blues influenced song, with outstanding playing by Brian himself on the acoustic (that riff on the intro) and electric guitar (that solo later on), Ike Stubblefield (Hammond B3 Organ) and Ian Walker (harmonica). Brian's voice impresses too, a bit hoarse but warm and very strong. This track reminds me of Delbert McClinton.
2. "Fetch A Pail": A duet and co-write with Jonell Mosser. An excellent choice for this sunny optimistic ballad, that stays in the same soul vibe. The catchy gospel like chorus makes everybody hum or even sing along! Fine electric guitar solo again, by the way - and the organ is played by Kevin McKendree here.
3. "You Have Set You Free": All songs on this album are written or co-written by Brian himself. This is another melodious romantic one, showing off Brian's beautiful voice. Did I mention already, that besides all acoustic and electric guitar parts, he plays the bass guitar too?
4. "Out Of The City": The title track, co-written by Suzi Ragsdale who also sings background vocals. I always loved her as a singer and she really should get more attention! This is a typical road song, winking at seventies country rock, but not too fast - we don't want anybody to get a speeding ticket!
5. "Would You Come If I Go": Co-written by Jimbeau Hinson. A very nice slow country soul ballad, with an intriguing melody line and an intriguing question too.
6. "Free To Miss You": The song that made the British TV-series, as we read earlier. Yes, I get the reason why and it's not only the smart hook line. This track has a very nice, softly swinging and flowing feel to it. Ian Walker plays the harmonica again and Adam Hatley sings background vocals.
7. "Meet Me In The River": Ah, the blues... Co-written by Donna Hopkins. Perfect interplay between electric guitar and Jon Loyd's keyboards. Sensual gospel like background vocals by Suzi Ragsdale again. Beautiful ballad!
8. "Carolina's Dream": Brian keeps it to the acoustic guitar here, Gary Oleyar plays a fine fiddle throughout. Suzi adds vocals to this classic sounding country song with some bluegrass touches. It is so nice, that Brian adds influences from various music styles to his very own sound, keeping them just under the surface.
9. "River Bones": The fifth keyboard player just entered the studio! Luckily they're all great, although everybody might have their own favorite. An environmentally conscious song, with nostalgic memories.
10. "Would You Come If I Go": The acoustic version of track 5. Brian plays acoustic guitar, Tisha Simeral the upright bass, we hear Bruce Baxter on a tasteful accordion, while Suzi Ragsdale and Adam Hatley sing background vocals. Absolutely gorgeous! I would have loved to hear more of this acoustic sound.
This album shows off Brian's songwriting skills. Although these are all recent originals, they sound a bit familiar and catchy above all. Brian is a very good singer and excellent guitar player. I like this country soul vibe too, thanks to the various keyboard players.
Nice little touch in the colorful layout: underneath the CD tray is a picture of graffiti, a spray painted bird with the advice: "Dream Big".
Written by Johanna J. Bodde - April 14th, 2015.