Laurence Jones, The Truth - album review
'The future of the blues' is a pretty big moniker to carry around your neck.
This isn't a need to carry on the family name, or even being the young hopeful in your country's sporting team. No, this is looking after a musical genre loved by millions worldwide. No pressure, then.
He’s won several major awards already, sold more than 50,000 albums, and supported the likes of Status Quo, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, James Bay, Van Morrison, Joe Bonamassa, Jools Holland, and many more. So it's not weighing him down too much yet.
He's been pretty prolific since starting out in 2012. This is his fifth record already.
What we have here is just enough swagger to nod at that bright future, without going overboard and leaving us thinking 'what a precocious little...'
He is aiming at 'crossover blues' citing the work of Hendrix, Clapton and Meyer as his inspiration for 'bringing blues to the masses'. Again, no pressure.
That funky vibe can be heard throughout the foot-tapping opener What Would You Do. Phil Wilson's drumming really powers this track with its understated power and keeps everything ticking over nicely, along with Bennett Holland's deft, soft keys.
Gone Away also follows this pattern, if slightly more up-tempo and gutsy. Jones' guitar is allowed to growl more here and adds a touch of grit to proceedings.
There are some poppy moments, too. The title track is one of those. It could easily take its place in future on The X Factor, some young hopeful trying to emulate Jones' pained vocals.
But when we slow right down and get all 'romantic' is maybe where the record really hits its stride. Can't Go On Without You shows Jones' gang at their swooping best. It sits nicely between cocky and assured, the bass from Greg Smith punching the track forward as Jones slides his guitars over the top.
There is certainly enough here to suggest that tough moniker may be realised. While the overall pace may sometimes feel repetitive the record is strong when it needs to be. Bringing blues to the masses and commercial success may begin right here.
Laurence Jones is touring to support the new record and play's at Birmingham's Hare & Hounds in King's Heath on May 10.