Glenn Jones – My Garden State (Thrill Jockey)
13 May 2013
Storyteller and guitarist Glenn Jones releases his new album. Paul Scott-Bates gives his thoughts to Louder Than War.
Glenn Jones is known for his original storytelling through his songs, a good guitarist undoubtedly, but there’s something missing on ‘My Garden State’. The ten instrumentals here are pleasant enough but that’s probably as far as it goes. The tracks are well crafted and, with the exception of ‘Going Back To East Montgomery’ and ‘Like A Sick Eagle Looking At The Sky’, are of reasonable enough length to be easy on the ear without being ‘too much’. These two tracks are around eight minutes each and to be frank, they could easily have been half as long.
It’s true, the tracks exude a certain amount of emotion; the listener could well put their own story to the music and find themselves drifting away into their own self-contained nirvana, and if that is the purpose of them then Glenn is a very talented musician indeed. If not, then there is clearly something amiss and could be in need of being addressed.
Both opener and closer to the album, ‘Chimes’ and ‘Chimes II’ are pointless. Quite literally the sound of chimes over an evening breeze with background crickets, they are almost identical, and are neither interesting nor cohesive to the rest of the album. They may well be of some personal note to the musician, but to the listener they could have been deleted from the album.
This isn’t a bad album though. In fact, track two, ‘Across The Tappan Zee’, is a great piece, one which holds great promise for the rest of the album, but therein lies the problem. Every track of ‘My Garden State’ bestows this promise, and it becomes a ‘nearly’ album. Glenn tries to bring a bit of something special to his playing by using alternate tunings and this is to be applauded. Similarly, he has a skill for projecting many emotions through wordless tracks which is to be acknowledged and recognised.
At times, he drifts into improvisation with the likes of ‘The Vernal Pool’, but, on the title track, he again comes good with a well-constructed and enjoyable track
An album of promise, with a few dulled diamonds which are ideal as background music, but, lack a little something to bring it to the fore.
Listen to individual tracks from the album here.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found here. Paul’s website is Heaven Is A Place On Pendle. Paul has been working hard to save Radio Lancashire’s On The Wire, easily one of the best radio shows on the BBC. Follow him on twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news or follow his personal twitter, @hiapop.