JW-Jones – High Temperature
Solid Blues Records
CD: 13 Songs, 51:04 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock
Amid the assortment of blues CD’s Ms. Wetnight is currently reviewing lay one by an artist her passionate purist papa (Skyy Dobro) recognized with enthusiasm: “Hey!” he cried. “JW-Jones. That’ll be blues rock fo’sho’!” Indeed it is, with hero-caliber chopper cranked up to a blistering High Temperature. It’s a more than fitting follow-up to Jones’ JUNO Award-nominated Belmont Boulevard, which soared to the Billboard Top 10. This Canadian maverick, sporting a slick hairdo, slick suit, and slick shredder riffs, blasts through thirteen songs – eight originals and five covers including the title track – with instrumental heat that would shatter anyone’s thermometer. His vocal style, however, is akin to Richard Harris’ and Vanessa Redgrave’s in Camelot. Jones, and these two renowned actors, don’t so much sing as converse with a lilt in their voices. No matter. What’s on showroom display here is guitar with a capital G, and it is truly gargantuan.
One thing is also for sure: JW is a star on a meteoric rise in the blues-rock universe. His promotional info sheet reveals one of his most recent ascents: “In early 2016, Jones was requested directly form George Thorogood and The Destroyers’ management to open several Canadian tour dates, and he toured the UK for the first time, creating a buzz that resulted in glowing endorsements from members of the band Vintage Trouble and Joe Bonamassa’s UK publicist, Peter Noble…Jones has now toured in twenty-three countries and Jones has support from blues royalty – Jimmie Vaughan, Robert Cray, and the late Johnny Winter.”
JW’s co-musicians on his latest CD are no blues peasants themselves, but multitalented artisans. With him are two other members of a touring band, bassist Laura Greenberg and drummer Mathieu Lapensée. Session musicians include acclaimed Nashville producer and co-lyricist Colin Linden on guitar (of whom Jones has long been a fan); Kevin McKendree on keyboards; Dominic John Davis on bass; Bryan Owings on drums and percussion; Liam Russell on harmony vocals; and Jaida Dreyer on lead vocals for track two, “How Many Hearts.”
The three songs listed below will make early spring seem as scorching as the middle of August:
Track 01: “Price You Pay” – Co-written by Colin Linden and Gary Nicholson, the album’s opener laments the sacrifices people make in life to get what they want. “Spend a dollar to save a dime will make you holler every time. Shoving that square peg in the round hole, till you squeeze out every last drop of your soul.” Whether one’s dream is a muscle car, as in the first verse, or a high-maintenance lover in the second, this Joe Walsh-style tune knows all about it. From intro to outro, it rages with cathartic frustration.
Track 04: “Murder in my Heart for the Judge” – This tail-kicking cover of a Moby Grape hit tells the tale of a defendant whose desire for vengeance goes from dim to deadly. Its objects? “That big, fat, bald representative of justice and the prosecutor began to frown.” With a growling lead guitar with a broken-glass edge, track four is one of those guilty-pleasure songs that people can’t help singing along to, despite its dark title. There’s some great barroom harmony going on here.
Track 13: “Wham” – JW-Jones’ final jam shows why its title often comes before “Bam! Thank you, ma’am.” It’s a low-down, throw-down cover of a surfer-style instrumental by Lonnie Mack, and it’ll get crowds – live and at home – on the dance floor. Hopefully, they won’t wipe out. Greenberg and Lapensée go all out on drums and bass, thrumming and crashing to a grand finale.
Canada’s JW-Jones sure knows how to play High Temperature guitar!