The Bones of J.R. Jones – A Celebration

22 April 2021 / by Rachel Scott
The cover to The Bones of J.R. Jones' EP, A Celebration
Album reviews
The Bones of J.R. Jones A Celebration
Released: March 19, 2021
Label: The Bones of J.R. Jones / Tone Tree Music
Americana / Indie Folk
Langhorne Slim / Lord Huron / Shakey Graves
Stay Wild, Howl, Keep It Low

A departure from his usual gritty blues-rock ambience, The Bones of J.R. Jones’ latest EP, A Celebration, still holds a vintage Americana feel while adopting a few modern twists. Blending drum machines and analog synths with soft warm acoustic fingerstyle and clean tinny slide guitar, this unconventional fusion acts to blur the lines between time and genre we’ve become so familiar with. 

Opening strong with this instrumental juxtaposition, ‘Stay Wild’ pairs a 80s-esque drum beat with the smooth, whiny sound of the slide guitar. The resulting and surprisingly complementary effect creates a transcendental and style-morphing listening experience that sets the tone for the rest of the album.

A Celebration is characterized by a dark, contemplative feel through long, spine-chilling melodies tackling mortality, insignificance, and vulnerability. However, it also carries with it a sense of contentment and hope through allusions to south-western wildlife and sentiments of accepting your natural “wild” self. In the EP’s second track, ‘Howl’ Jones adopts his own wolf-like inflection for the line “Oh, won’t you howl with me” to bring this idea to life while still maintaining his own understated and droning timbre. Best summed up in the line “cause the beauty of it all, is in the terror, the danger of the fall” in ‘Stay Wild’, A Celebration refers to accepting and honouring these truths in life instead of living in fear of them.

Facilitated by Linaberry’s gentle vocals and Kiyoshi Matsuyama’s expert production, this raw feel comes through in both the lyrics and songs. The EP’s stripped-back composition particularly in its final two songs, ‘Like an Old Lover’ and ‘A Celebration’, gives way to the intimate revelation of self laced throughout the whole performance. Echoey, gospel harmonies and a lulling acoustic guitar place you right in the cramped space with the singers. Bringing with it a sense of warmth and comfort, the final track, ‘A Celebration’ invites a deeply personal moment that offers a satisfying and heartening conclusion to A Celebration