Having released Ancestor, one of the most overlooked albums this year, Nashville’s Stone Jack Jones is steeped in myth and the lore of the hills. A descendent of four generations of coal miners, such a life is detailed in the creaking echoes of “Black Coal,” a tribute to his late father. Both beautiful and haunting, Ancestor‘s 11 songs are shrouded in darkness through their minimal instrumentation and often chorus-less songs. Like “Black Coal,” the flagellating Gothic nursery rhyme “Red Red Rose” and existential questioning of “Anyone” are somber meditations on life and its burdens.
Light does peek through due to the off-kilter nature of songs like “State I’m In,” a morose lament that gives way to a breezy jazz break, the trumpet backed by gleeful crowd chatter, transforming the song’s seedy bar locale into a vibrant nightclub. Album closer, “Petey’s Song,” adds levity to its preceding songs, detailing a relationship between man and his canine companion.
Not one to shy away from topical themes, Ancestor‘s “Anyone,” according to Jones, was inspired by a photograph of self-immolation that begat the Arab Spring in 2010. Now, 13 years later, Jones has recorded a video for a song birthed by the 9-11 attacks in New York City. In Jones’ words, “In My Dreaming” is a song about realizing “The day the sky fell a way of life disappeared. A way of seeing ourselves and the world.”
The itinerant Jones will be touring Ancestor this fall, crossing the country playing shows with O’Death and Death Vessel. Dates follow.
10th – The Grog Shop – Cleveland, OH #
11th – Empty Bottle – Chicago, IL #
13th – Triple Rock Social Club – Minneapolis, MN #
14th – The Mill – Iowa City, IA #
15th – The Demo – St Louis, MO #
16th – Auntie Mae’s Parlor – Manhattan, KS #
17th – Zoo Bar – Lincoln, NE #
18th – Moe’s Original – Denver, CO #
20th – Neurolux – Boise, ID #
22nd – The Tractor – Seattle, WA #
23rd – Mississippi Studios – Portland, OR #
24th – Sam Bond’s Garage – Eugene, OR #
25th – The Depot at Humbolt State University – Arcata, CA #
27th – The Crepe Place – Santa Cruz, CA #
28th – Brick & Mortar Music Hall – San Francisco, CA #
29th – Leo’s – Oakland, CA #
30th – Hotel Café – Los Angeles, CA
1st – Bunkhouse – Las Vegas
10th – Exit / In – Nashville, TN #
12th – North Star Bar – Philadelphia, PA
13th – DC9 – Washington, DC #
14th – The Bell House – Brooklyn, NY &
# w/ O’Death
& w/ O’Death and Death Vessel
Stone Jack Jones’ Ancestor is a brooding work of art, one that’s destined to find its way into my Best Of 2014 list come December. Purchase Ancestor via Western Vinyl and watch a mini-documentary on the making of the album below.