Friday, December 16, 2022

Laurence Jones - Destination Unknown

Principle #1:  As Todd Rundgren once said, if you’ve got a single, put it first.  Now nobody’s going to mistake Laurence Jones for a singles artist anytime soon, but the principle still applies, and Jones has followed it by opening Destination Unknown with a real attention-grabber of a track in ‘Anywhere With Me’.  Bursting into action with a taut, Schenker-like riff, it’s bright and fresh, and packs in plenty of twists and turns to keep your ears on alert.  The rhythm section are right on it, with neat variations from drummer Samuel Jenkins, Bennett Holland supplies some
Laurence Jones feels the spirit move him.
dandy blasts of organ, and Jones himself adds surging chords, guitar fill garnishing, and a zesty solo leading into a strident bridge.  Oh yeah, and a confident, spirited vocal too.  Okay Laurence, I’m in.  What’s next?
What’s next is ‘Can’t Keep From Loving You’, which opens with a bouncing riff over throbbing bass from Jack Alexander Timms and swinging drums from Jenkins.  It’s a good tune, with a witty guitar turnaround at the end of the chorus.  Which brings me to Principle #2: As someone once put it, “You get the chorus, and then at then at the end you milk it.  Do it five times!”   It’s a maxim Jones and co seem to have grasped, hammering home the hook here - and elsewhere - even while Jones sends guitar licks flitting between the lines.
There’s a tense urgency about ‘Give Me That Feeling’, which suits a lyric about getting all hot and bothered over a girl.  The pushy, low-end, stop-start riff works a treat, another catchy chorus comes swathed in organ from Holland, and Jones adds a clever, needlingly different guitar break for good measure.
Do they keep up this glowing standard over the course of the remaining tracks?  Well, perhaps not – but they give it a good go.  There’s an air of Foreigner-like AOR to the likes of ‘Gave It All Away’ and ‘I Won’t Lie Again’, the former swirling and kicking and the latter neat and swinging, if less memorable.  And there’s a similar vibe later with ‘Said And Done’, this time with a mellow opening of pulsing bass and chocolate box piano before Jones enters with a probing guitar line, and then a yearning vocal backed up by satisfying harmonies.
‘Tonight’ veers from sensitive verses to a muscle-flexing chorus, and if the value of adding a delayed coda initially seems doubtful that’s soon brushed aside as it swells into a whirling organ solo and some lofty, sweeping guitar work from Jones.  There’s a touch of latterday King King-like soulfulness too, on the romantic ‘Holding Back’, which veers between a breathy chorus and a strong guitar theme, and on the closing title track, with its glossy harmonies and ascending chorus, plus its good use of dynamics and the impactful bridge that prefaces Jones’ melodic solo that wraps itself around the final replays of the hook.
Destination Unknown is a worthy follow-up to previous album Laurence Jones Band - an enjoyable ensemble performance from Jones and his amigos, this time with a new rhythm section in Timmis and Jenkins.  The arrangements are concise but punchy, slipping in enough flourishes to sharpen interest along the way, and the sound is clear, tight and well-balanced.  Well done chaps.
Destination Unknown is out now on Marshall Records, and can be ordered here.

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