One of the features of Record Store Day (Saturday, April 19) is the opportunity to procure limited edition copies of records released that day. These physical treasures swiftly become collector’s items. Glenn Jones’ lovely little record is destined to become one of this year’s favorites: three tracks, live and lost and found.
While Jones has made a token effort to distance himself from John Fahey comparisons, the fact that he is touring in support of a Fahey biography (Steve Lowenthal’s Dance of Death: The Life of John Fahey, American Artist, June 1) indicates that he continues to feel an affinity for Fahey and would hardly discourage such comparisons. A more accurate statement is that Jones continues in the Fahey tradition, expanding on his influences rather than imitating them.
The visual component is a strong factor in appreciating Jones’ work. He’s a fun guitarist, and his cover art emphasizes his playfulness, from a guitar-plucking chicken (get it?) on This Is the Wind That Blows It Out to the fish, cat and clover of more recent releases. This time around, someone throws the dog a bone, but the bone is smiling. The approach is instantly endearing, and backed up by the similarly adventurous music, which melds a childlike innocence to an adult mastery of American primitivism.
Welcomed Wherever I Go opens with a medley of two tracks from Jones’ 2007 album Against Which the Sea Continually Beats. While Jones frequently plays these songs together live, this is the first time they have appeared together in a physical format. The sliding tremolos are especially poignant, as Jones teases sounds from his guitar that warble in the wind, offering a sharp contrast to the plucked notes for which he is famous. Then comes a “lost” track that somehow managed to end up on an unmarked CD-R. (Musicians can be forgetful!) A less ebullient track than we are used to hearing from the artist, “From a Lost Session” starts slowly and possesses a dark undercurrent. Even when it picks up steam, it remains in a minor key, seeping a surprising gravitas. Rounding out the release is a duet with Cian Nugent, a live take that operates by one simple rule: the guest guitarist is free to improvise. This leads to a warm exchange of tones that for all its lack of preparation sounds entirely instinctive.
Our readers may not have needed another reason to venture into a record store on April 19. We love our vinyl shoppes, and are buoyed by the news that for the first time in years, more are opening than closing. But for readers who were hesitating, Glenn Jones should cement the deal. (Richard Allen)