Country, psyche and sweet soul – it’s all here. A new album by KC Jones – from Lafayette with love
Release Date: 18th June 2021
Label: KC Jones Music
Formats: CD / Vinyl / Streaming / Download
KC Jones is a very busy lady. Not only is she an active member of Layfayette, Louisiana-based Cajun outfits T’Monde and the Grammy-nominated Feufollet, she’s just completed her debut solo album, Queen Of The In Between – and it’s quite something!
KC, or Kelli Jones, as her mother knows her, hails from a highly musical Appalacian family, but for the past 15 years, she’s been based in Lafayette. The city that’s world-famous as the epicentre of Creole and Cajun music; a scene in which KC is deeply immersed. What Layfayette outsiders may not appreciate is that the city is also home to a host of young, innovative musicians, the cream of whom KC has assembled as her Queen Of The In Between band. Chris Stafford (pedal steel, guitars, keyboards and vocals), Trey Bordreaux (bass), Jim Kolacek (drums) and Joel Savoy (guitars, vocals) provide the perfect and versatile backing to KC’s sweet and highly alluring voice and her acrobatic flips from genre to genre to make Queen Of The In Between a very pleasant listening experience indeed.
The album is a triumph. Don’t let KC’s background lure you into expecting a set of Cajun tunes (nice though that prospect undoubtedly is…) but there’s a whole lot of everything else to enjoy! Classic country, singer-songwriter folk, West Coast psychedelia, Motown-flavoured soul and 60s pop all get their turn in the spotlight, often in the same song, and the overall impression is of a collection of songs that are highly unique.
KC cites Gene Clark’s seminal No Other album as a key influence, but, personally, I don’t quite get that. What I do get are numerous hints of other influences, ranging from early Creedence, The Doors, Big Brother and the Holding Company, REM, Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac, any of the Phil Spector early sixties girl groups and sprinklings of Tamla Motown. And all that’s piled onto a generous base layer of country rock.
The scene is well and truly set from the opening twang of Beginnings And Ends, KC’s appraisal of the challenge of starting afresh during a period of uncertainty. It’s a light, fresh, poppy tune, with a late 60s feel and some nice organ flourishes just below the surface. The current single, Heat Rises, is an interesting contemplation of the finite cycle of love, from its initial spark to the last flickerings of its final dying ember. The song is a true album highlight – jangly guitars, a lovely pedal steel solo and a vocal that could show Stevie Nicks just what sweetness is meant to sound like!
The bluesy, almost ragtime, I’ve Got Time is another cracker. KC’s critique of the fast pace and associated pressures of modern life is an instantly likeable singalong tune. I love the subtle, low-in-the-mix pedal steel on this one. Holding Out On Me is a slower number, with a structure that reminds me of a REM song. Strummed electric guitars and some nicely restrained percussion give the song an intimate edge, and the chorus harmonies are wonderful. A song to wave your Zippo to!
Things get darker and almost swampy with the excellent Bring The House Down. The chorus harmonies have a soulful flavour, whilst the electric piano solo, played over the recurrent, insistent backing guitar riff recalls The Doors and Riders On The Storm. It’s a song that brings Creedence, The Doors and The Ronettes together under a single roof and it’s a compulsive listen from the first guitar chord to the end of the long, slow, fade-out.
The title track is an equally interesting piece of music. With its wistful, resigned vocal and its guitar and pedal steel, it has the initial hallmark of a classic country ballad. But nothing on this album is quite so straightforward… It’s one of those songs that never quite goes where you expect it to, and the end result is a kind of hybrid country/R&B number. Stop On The Way is a personal favourite, and another interesting hybrid of genres, as it flits between Haight Ashbury psychedelia and Martha’s Vineyard songwriter mellowness. The psychedelic guitar and the swirling organ give the song a real presence.
The instrumentation backs right off for the dreamy and soulful I Didn’t Mean It – a lovely song in which the haunting vocal harmonies provide all the necessary interest. Fall In Line is soulful and psychedelic in equal measures before things are wrapped up by Lost My Way, a beautiful, intimate song in which the only backing to KC’s clear, close, upfront vocals are a couple of guitars picking out a simple root-octave theme. It’s a lovely, quirky end to a fascinating, quirky album.
Watch the Official video to Beginnings and Ends – the album’s opening track – here: