Friday, 9 May 2014

Albums of 2014: Jones - To The Bone

Let me start by saying that I have thought long and hard about posting Albums Of 2014 so early in the year - but I know what I like and I like what I know (that sounds vaguely familiar in a Prog sort of way) - so for Albums that I know are going to make the list, well why not get them in early to give everyone an opportunity to seek out and get a few months more enjoyment if they feel so inclined as to invest

There are a few select artists that I will buy blind. That is, buy their music without even hearing it first.

Miracle Mile is one such band. Well Duo actually. Consisting of singer/songwriter Trevor Jones & multi-instrumentalist and producer Marcus Cliffe.

Since hearing them with their 2001 album Slow Fade, I've been a huge fan. Indeed their latest album, In Cassidy's Care, was MY Album Of The Year 2013

In 2009, Trevor Jones released his first solo album under his surname Jones, called Hopeland. It was conceived in Corsica and comprised of songs linked by spoken poetic passages.

He built on Hopeland with his second solo album two years later called Keepers. This was a lush album with strings and a depth of instrumentation.

However, during the genesis of To The Bone it became apparent that Trevor wanted to keep the instrumentation sparse and fairly limited. It's probably the nearest he will get to an acoustic album - despite my protestations.

Trevor has always been a 'hopeful' romantic and the album deals with friendship, nostalgia and romance. 

There is always a lot of emphasis placed on the words in Trevor's songs both solo and with Miracle Mile and you can always hear every word of his songs. And you need to, as they are the key to the experience. 

Marcus Cliffe is also on hand to provide the colour and delicate production on the album.

The album opens with Phil The Hat. A nostalgic look back at friendship and an earlier life. Trevor loves to build word pictures and you can see them in your mind as you listen to the music. It's easy to create your own mind movies to Trevor's songs.

Dream Horses is a lovely piano led ballad which is complimented by some lovely string sounds and pedal steel guitar.

Next up is Pardon Me, another simple piano led ballad with Trevor's quavering almost breaking beautiful vocal to the fore.

An influence on the album is Mid Air by Paul Buchanan - with it's gentle approach and almost vignette type songs, with six of the fourteen tracks coming in less than 3 minutes long. 
Almost sketches on the canvas or opaque colours at least.

Some Kind Of Surrender features a backdrop of bells and tuned percussion to an almost Morricone like tune.

Books To Bed opens with the sound of distant police sirens before a keyboard backdrop leads into a piano and guitar while Trevor heartrendingly sings 'or we could just make love' - A truly beautiful song.

It is definitely a Midnight Album

'Well sometimes you need silence to hear the silence in your voice' is the opening line to Man Behind The Moon which is one of the most 'Miracle Mile' tracks on the album and clocks in at a sparse 1.37 - but it's none the worse for that in this album of brief encounters as passing images,

Angelicana is the track that sounds most like Americana - hence the title with its's slide guitar, pedal steel, rimshot drums and bells.

Trevor recalls Hopeland with the next song as he uses spoken word to introduce Cabin Fever - 'a new day is dawning and my heart is beating fast' - a simple song with basic acoustic guitar and atmospheric keyboard backdrop.

I can also sense a Sigur Ros influence in several of the songs but without their icy remoteness.

Indeed, the album is one of intimacy, like someone whispering sweet nothings in your ear.

Next up is Fullness Of Time. 

'It's magic we crave, explosions of wonder, make heavens above of the grey skies we're under' - the gentle almost waltz -like Fireworks shimmers like light on the ocean.

Glimpsed & Gone - is a plaintive piano instrumental with some what sounds like nighttime sounds. It's very Edward Hopper!

The title track To The Bone is the most unusual song on the album - it has Trevor's clear vocal against a tune with multiple voices, organ and electric guitar to an almost football-chant like tune.

The penultimate song on the album is the most 'complete' song on the album and the one that sounds most like what you would expect from a Miracle Mile/Trevor Jones album - the magnificent Somewhere North Of Here.

For me, Trevor has kept the best song until last.

Row begins with a piano and pedal steel refrain and is a love letter to his lady. It is very touching and sounds very personal - as if we should not be listening to these private thoughts. The ending is lovely and I don't want to spoil it by describing it here but it almost broke my heart with sound. 
To The Bone is beautiful, delicate, like whispers in the wind or that glimpse from the corner of your eye. It draws you in and seduces you with both sounds and words. It's Trevor Jones' most simple and perhaps honest record - emotions stripped down 'to the bone' and the stripped down feel to the album compliment the music perfectly. 

If you hear a more beautiful album this year then I'll eat my Marshall gigging cap.

If you want to delve a little deeper into Trevor's music, this is a indication of what Miracle Mile can bring to your music collection.

Trevor also writes a brilliant blog and wrote about To The Bone when he was recording it, so it's well worth reading - but listen to the album first.

If you can't wait for the official release date on 16th June - then you can get it here 

Twitter - @hissytrev


  1. Thanks Nick. I know that ours is a 'virtual' friendship but it really does make it all worthwhile to make such connections. I'm flattered that you take the time to listen so intently. That's my intention, but I'm aware that I'm 'out of time' amongst an iPod generation that has a habit of flitting. My stuff needs to listened to in quiet, as a piece; otherwise it doesn't really resonate. It's a big ask to get folk to engage on the at level; to give up 45 minutes when there are so many other… distractions. I love music on all levels but 'songs' and songwriting has always been about 'connection' for me, both as a listener and a writer. So, chuffed to have made your acquaintance and that it's not a fleeting encounter Fleetwood!

    1. It's great to be able to rely on an artist to constantly produce great music. You've never produced a disappointing record and in this day and age of 'chasing the buck' that is quite some feat. You're right about how people listen to music. Perhaps is now just left to us 'older generations' who were brought up listening on headphones and vinyl to be able to 'experience' recorded music the way that the artist intended. And let's be honest here, it is an Art. Perhaps it's ironic that the younger generation are also now listening on headphones but to a inferior 'product' as MP 3.
      I've always thought that the really need some 'experience of life' to really appreciate your music. That may sound pretentious but I think it's true. You have an audience, ok, it may not be huge as in the Springsteen context but as I communicate with the people who live and more often love the music you produce, it seems you have the ability to move people. Which, at the end of the day, is the most you can ask for. So keep up the good work, follow your arrow, and produce your music. I, for one, will always listen.

  2. Awesome Nick that you have the technical know-how to go about uploading YouTube videos of MM/Jones!!! It's been a long time coming, and you've done a fantastic job. I'm especially impressed with the Corsica photos you've added to accompany "In Your Eye". It's one of my favorite of TJ's songs. The layered vocals are heavenly aren't they? And who else would toss a graphic lyric into a verse like "And I will scale and gut it good, gut it good and call it food" then conclude with that incredibly personal & moving final verse?

    I agree with your observation that perhaps some 'experience of life' may add to the appreciation of the music. I only wish I possessed the youth to identify with the 'Weatherwise' lyric... "You can kiss my ass and call me shorty - Coming up fast approaching forty..." I was thinking the boys might have to someday re-record and update the lyric to "sixty" for old farts like me, but it just doesn't rhyme! Argh, when will I comprehend that I'm really that old?

    Sorry, I'm wallowing... Again, nice review and thanks for posting the video clips. Well done!

  3. Thank's Tim. It's always difficult writing a review without giving too much away. To be able to give enough info to give people a taste of what to expect without giving the secrets away is almost impossible. That's why I haven't put Row up on Youtube.

    The video bit is simple. I have asked Trev for some decent resolution images to create a couple of videos, he should have penty as Di is a photographer, but he's blanking me. Perhaps they're TOO incriminating!!

  4. Oy Macwood! If it's pictures you want… Pix of what though?