It feels like it’s a good time to be a blues fan. With Steve Hill’s recent album doing the rounds alongside King King’s, JW Jones is the latest to lay down the gauntlet. With less boogie involved, High Temperature shares the same old school vibe as Tax the Heat. It feels like it was born out of the 50s and 60s but with modern production values.
Without becoming a jumbled mess, Jones experiments with various styles to make an enjoyable listen. His whisky-soaked voice makes him sound about double his age and it lends extra weight to his lyrics. There are numerous highlights and not a single weak track.
Opening the album with “Price You Pay”, Jones’ guitar sounds like he’s noodling on it for several seconds before sliding into the meat of the brooding track. Meanwhile “Where Do You Think I Was” feels like a snide parting shot at the end of the album as he makes up a fantastical tale. And then there’s “Midnight Blues”. Bouncy and catchy, it’s one of the best songs I’ve heard all year. Then there’s “How Many Hearts”; a duet with Jaida Dreyer, smoky and sultry, their voices bounce off each other perfectly.
However, the real highlight is “Who I Am”, beginning on a mournful note, it tells the story of a childhood robbed and a bleak existence while exploring the theme that what we do in our lives is fuelled by our inner child. Pain and sorrow mingle with each other; Jones bares his soul and as the protagonist, brings it to another level, bitter at the idea of having to grow up fast as it was foisted upon him.
Instrumental closer “Wham” ends things with a 50’s surf rock sound but after the aforementioned “Where Do You Think I Was”, it feels tacked on. While a great track, it would have been an ideal piece to have at the halfway point to act as an interlude and have “Where…” as the parting shot. Regardless, it doesn’t leave a sour taste in your mouth but as it abruptly ends, you half expect a track to follow it.
The album showcases a man focused and assured. Confident in his guitar ability, Jones experiments with different sounds to create one of the most varied blues albums you’ll hear. It’s obvious he takes his cues from the originators, drinking from the source rather than what’s been filtered out from it. Title track “High Temperature” feels like a jam with Chuck Berry, playing and experimenting with what can be done with a guitar but still create something which speaks to your soul. His playing is tight and polished, a genuine feeling of a man pushing himself to be the best version of himself he can be.
If you’re looking for a new bluesman, you can’t go wrong with JW Jones. High Temperature acts as an ode to the originators and with this, his latest album, he’s going to ensure his name is remembered. And with an extensive tour in November and December, he’s be playing these songs in a town near you.
- Thursday 23 November – Worthing Pavilion
- Friday 24 November – Cellar Bar, Bear Hotel, Devizes
- Saturday 25 November – The Thunderbolt, Bristol
- Sunday 26 November – Mr Kyps, Poole
- Monday 27 November – Marr’s Bar, Worcester
- Tuesday 28 November – Robin 2, Bilston
- Wednesday 29 November – Kardomah94, Hull
- Thursday 30 November – The Musician, Leicester
- Saturday 2 December – Borderline, London
- Sunday 3 December – Edinburgh Voodoo Rooms
- Tuesday 5 December – Waterfront, Norwich
- Wednesday 6 December – Komedia, Brighton
- Thursday 7 December – The Talking Heads, Southampton
- Friday 8 December – Keighley Blues Live
- Saturday 9 December – Nice N Sleazy, Glasgow
- Sunday 10 December – Cluny 2, Newcastle
High Temperature is released on 20th October