Elegance and Stillness – ‘To The Bone’ by Jones – LP Review

So let’s raise a glass to our younger selves, remembering how it used to be” (Phil ‘The Hat’, from To The Bone)

To The Bone’ is the latest release by Trevor Jones aka ‘Jones’.  I stumbled upon Trevor Jones’ work a few years back reading a review of his 2009 LP ‘Hopeland’ in The Guardian.  Having never heard of Trevor or his band Miracle Mile, I was intrigued by the review describing the beautiful music within and I cut out the article thinking ‘I must get that album sometime’.  I put it on a Christmas list and, upon receiving it as a gift, it became a favourite of both my wife and I.

hopeland 1

‘HOPELAND’ by Jones

A couple of years later I happened upon a review of Miracle Mile’s ‘In Cassidy’s Care’ in R2 magazine (which I’d bought as I’d heard they were due to be publishing a review of the forthcoming LP by The Janskys).  Again the words in the review encouraged me to add the LP to a must have list – I was lucky enough to receive this LP as a present also.  It was only recently when playing ‘In Cassidy’s Care’ again, while being pulled into the gently sonically textured lyrical world of Trevor Jones and musical partner Marcus Cliffe, that I thought I should actively seek out more music by these gentle weavers.

In-Cassidy-sCare 1

‘IN CASSIDY’S CARE’ by Miracle Mile

So, with the wonders of the Interweb I managed to find Miracle Mile’s website, www.miraclemile.co.uk , and discovered a whole host of other releases including the latest Jones offering, ‘To The Bone’.  Actually parting with my own cash this time, I ordered a copy.

Looking across the sleeves to all three LPs the line up of writers, producers and musicians is very similar.  And to be honest, why would you mess with a blend that works so well?  It seems that the difference between a Jones release and a Miracle Mile release is a subtle one.  On a Jones release Trevor Jones is credited as songwriter with Marcus and Trevor on production duties, whereas on a Miracle Mile release they are both listed as writers and producers.  It feels like I’m reviewing three LPs here, but context and continuation seem to me like a theme in Trevor Jones’ work.

To The Bone 1

‘TO THE BONE’ by Jones

The new LP ‘To The Bone’ is the most stripped back of the three I’ve heard.  Based around gentle piano and acoustic guitar with occasional waves of pedal steel, the LP works beautifully as a whole and moves effortlessly between each song’s core, subtle instrumental sections and on ‘Cabin Fever’, spoken word.  The effect of this, and with Trevor’s voice to the fore, means you are drawn into the stories, while the delicate musical arrangements direct you even more so to the words.

There is a gentle elegance and stillness about the work that brings about a kind of happy melancholy and sometimes almost a meditative wistfulness.  Themes of love, loss, longing and friendship crop up, and the detail in the everyday is made beautiful and important.

What started out as a letter always ends up in a song” (Pardon Me, from To The Bone)

There is no drama, just a subtle intensity that glows and grows with every listen.

I would urge you to spend some time in the musical world that Trevor Jones and Marcus Cliffe have created, you really won’t want to leave.

DS (Jan 2015)

The Janskys go to University…

Press Conference? Huh? by The Janskys?

It was Friday 13th December 2013 when The Janskys found themselves about to start their first ever press conference sitting in a room at the University of Huddersfield facing a group of Music Journalism students….  Tick, tick, tick, gulp, trickle of sweat.

Wind back a good six months to the manic days of trying to promote The Janskys new LP ‘When Silence Speaks’ to press, radio & online.  Pat and Damian were regularly hunched and huddled around Pat’s kitchen table launching emails into the ether and stuffing CDs into envelopes.  One such targeted journalist was Dave Simpson of The Guardian.  Regularly reading Dave’s articles in The Guardian’s Friday Film and Music section and having met him the previous year at a music conference in Leeds, Damian thought that he may be interested in the band’s new offering.  Sending the CD to The Guardian’s main address for Dave’s attention was always a gamble.  Nothing was heard back.  Ah well.

Close to the LP’s release a track off the album was played by Shed Seven’s Rick Witter on York’s Minster FM and, while listening in, the band heard that Dave Simpson was to be a guest on Rick’s show the following week.  Damian asked Rick to mention to Dave that the band were trying to contact him…..  If you don’t ask you don’t get….

Result!  Rick was able to get Dave’s non work email off him and passed it on.  So, the band blurbed an email over to Dave and waited.

Well, when Dave did get in touch the band’s integrity flew out the window and fantastical dreams of guitar shaped swimming pools began to formulate while anticipating the ensuing Guardian feature on The Janskys and LP review.  A reality check soon occurred when reading down Dave’s email…..  He could not write about the band in The Guardian…  Hopes dashed then, better throw away the letter of resignation to their day jobs.  It did transpire though, that, as well as writing for The Guardian, Dave Simpson was also a lecturer at the University of Huddersfield and as such was happy to offer to have the band in to be interviewed by some of his Music Journalism students.  Sounds like a bit of fun… ok….  He’d be in touch in the autumn term to arrange.

Pat, Damian and producer Colin Bradley were by now fast forwarding to hibernation mode, after the frenzied activity around the launch of the LP, when Dave contacted Sawayaka Sheffield in the late autumn to pin down a date for the ‘Press Conference…’  Huh? Press Conference?  Thought it was going to be an interview with a few students not a public inquisition?  Colin and Damian were seen packing bags to run to the hills, talking in public was never their strong point – Colin always peering from behind his laptop and mixing desk in the seclusion of the studio and Damian always seen lurking at Pat’s side at gigs only engaging with the microphone during song.  Knocking Colin and Damian’s heads together Pat said the bruises represented positive thoughts and they should use them as symbols of self belief.  A sales manager by day, public speaking is like….. erm, speaking for Pat, and he believed it would be fun and a new experience.  Right-o, let’s do it then.

The date was fixed for Friday 13th (Dec), uh oh this could be ominous, and the trio met up with Dave at the Uni before being fed to the lions.  Dave explained he would lead the Q&A and step in if the students’ questions dried up.  He also dropped the bombshell that the event would be recorded, but purely as an aide memoire for the students who were to write up an article based on the forthcoming grilling.

Over the next 45 minutes Dave steered the group of students through the Q&A.  Rather like the members of the band, some of the students were more confident than others. They threw a range of questions from ‘influences’, ‘the process of recording’, ‘collaborations’ and ‘the music scene in Sheffield’.  Pat gamely held court, with Colin somehow getting a Stockhausen reference into proceedings and Damian just about managing to control his beetroot head blushing.  The students did seem to engage with the scenario and Dave added depth by qualifying certain references that the band mentioned.  The lucky student who asked the best question was given a copy of ‘When Silence Speaks’ .

Looking back it can be said it was a fun, different and slightly surreal experience and we at Sawayaka Sheffield wait with interest to read any of the students outcomes should they be made public.  We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Dave and his students for being gentle with the band.


Other news in brief:

  • The lads had a great time playing at The Greystones on Fri 24th January with an audience who were amazingly quiet during performance and showed a great appreciation of the show.  The night was a real highlight in Pat and Damian’s live work together.
  • Finally, Pat and Damian have been demoing some new material (some of which has been road tested live in various ways).  They are hoping to record again with Colin their producer later in the spring.

Happy New Year BTW (just snuck in on the last day of January so still vaguely relevant!)