Small Town Jones

Small Town Jones

During the Kilkenny Roots Festival, Small Town Jones delivered an unforgettable session for The Influences at Bridie’s. The intimate performance featured captivating covers of Ray LaMontagne’s Jolene and James Warren’s Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime, alongside their original, The Mist and the Light from the new album Kintsugi – a day after its release. In the interview, we delve into the inspirations behind these covers, explore Jim Jones’ musical journey, and uncover the personal and philosophical themes that shape his addictive fifth album. Through reflective conversation, Jones offers a glimpse into his artistic mind, revealing how vulnerability and resilience weave through his music.

“I soon found my voice through shouting and writing angry songs.”

Jim Jones grew up in a small council house in Crawley, West Sussex, and later moved to Devon with his family. After some financial hardships, including losing their home, music became his sanctuary. “During my later school years, I spent a lot of time in a friend’s double garage full of instruments. Initially, I played drums, but I soon found my voice through shouting and writing angry songs, which helped me process my emotions. Despite the chaos, my parents always found solace in music, especially Motown and soul. Their love for music, which helped them articulate their feelings, instilled in me a similar sense of companionship from music, allowing me to express my emotions.”

It’s tough to pinpoint just a few artists or bands who have had a significant impact on his music, Jones realizes, as he’s influenced by so much. “My parents’ music, like Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On and Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions, still resonates with me. From my teenage years, bands like The Lemonheads and The Cure are staples. Other major influences include Bob Dylan, Nick Drake, Elliott Smith, Jeff Buckley, Sufjan Stevens, Ray LaMontagne, and Beck. Jeff Tweedy and Wilco are also regular listens, and my good friend Peter Bruntnell is a brilliant songwriter who inspires me. Currently, Bonny Light Horseman’s new album and This Is The Kit are on heavy rotation.”

“I tend to gravitate towards songs that express vulnerability.”

Jim Jones: “I was aware of The Korgis’ 80s hit Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime, but it was Beck’s version from the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind soundtrack that truly grabbed my attention. That film had such a beautifully melancholic soundtrack, and Beck’s stripped-down rendition was a standout for me. I tend to gravitate towards songs that express vulnerability, and the combination of the film and the song’s themes of love, loss, and hope resonated deeply with me.”

Ray LaMontagne’s Jolene had a similar impact on Jones. “I first saw Ray perform Trouble on BBC 2’s Later… with Jools Holland, and I was instantly captivated. Jolene from that album struck a chord with me due to its rawness and soulful melancholy. When I played it with my band, we infused it with an Americana, country roots vibe while striving to maintain the original’s intensity and soul.”

The challenges of letting go and holding on.

“I love art, films, and books, although I don’t read as much as I’d like. I recently enjoyed Nick Cave’s Faith Hope and Carnage biography, which inspired my song The Mist and the Light. I also listen to podcasts, with Blindboy’s podcast being a favorite. He shares fascinating, comedic episodes filled with random facts and hilarious takes, recommended by my friend, musician Martin Harley.”

Kintsugi is the fifth Small Town Jones album, and it feels like a culmination of Jones’ earlier work. “Writing Kintsugi with my good friend Mike Reed, who’s also a brilliant producer and songwriter, has been a cathartic process. He writes songs for film and TV, which can feel soulless at times, so working on this album allowed us to reconnect with the emotional core of music. Songwriting has always been therapeutic for me, especially during these tumultuous times. Kintsugi captures brokenness and restoration, hope and despair, and the challenges of letting go and holding on.”

The philosophy and art of Kintsugi, embracing scars and flaws, resonated with Jones. “It’s a way to deal with personal failures and struggles. I’m introspective and sensitive, always seeking philosophies to help cope with life’s challenges. Kintsugi’s message of celebrating our flaws rather than being defined by them is powerful to me.”

“My openness and vulnerability naturally spill into my songwriting.”

Working in youth justice and as a therapeutic mentor, Jim Jones aims to inspire young people to see themselves positively and not be defined by their mistakes. “My English teacher played that role for me, seeing through my anger and acting out, and encouraging me to pursue art and music. Her belief in me was transformative, and I believe in the power of one good person making a difference.”

Jones did pursue music and doesn’t hold back sharing personal experiences through his music. “To create something that resonates, you need to dig deep into yourself. I aim to write songs that connect with people emotionally, not just melodically. I’m known to be an over-thinker and an over-sharer, and my openness and vulnerability naturally spill into my songwriting.”

Beautiful things break.

Beautiful things break. You can look at the cracks and repairs when it’s put back together as flaws, or you can see them as part of the story; scars telling their own tale. It’s the philosophy of the Japanese art of kintsugi (“golden joinery”), and also the creative faith behind the first album in six years from Devon musician Small Town Jones, Kintsugi – released May 3, 2024. I know I speak highly of (pretty much) all artists that appear on The Influences, because I only film musicians whose work I love, but I’m not lying when I tell you I’ve listened to this album everyday since its release and since filming these guys in that lovely room upstairs at Bridie’s Bar in Kilkenny. Listen through the links below and get yourself a copy, why don’t you?

Small Town Jones in this session, are: Jim Jones, Dave Little (guitar), Mike Reed (drums), David Smale (bass) and Rebecca Balzani Barrow (violin).


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Photos


Originals

Jolene (Ray LaMontagne)
Tidal | Apple Music

Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime
(James Warren)
Tidal | Apple Music

Small Town Jones

Website
Bandcamp
Apple Music
Tidal

Credits

Filmed & edited by Matthijs van der Ven.
Additional filming by David Lawson Froggatt.
Audio recorded & mixed by Matthijs van der Ven.

Location
Bridie’s Bar & General Store
Kilkenny Roots Festival
Kilkenny, Ireland

Thanks
Gary Kehoe
Rollercoaster Records
Kilkenny Roots Festival
Everyone at Langton’s and Bridie’s

There is no better way to discover music than watching great musicians cover the songs they love. The Influences has been producing these videos ever since 2008.

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