I’m not sure really how to define the solo project from Mike Jones The Slow Road South. The songs off his album Abbot Of Unreason sometimes sound like post 80’s contemporary pop. Somewhere between Avalon era Roxy Music and a more ambient Peter Gabriel. Thematically and lyrically Jones tries to tackle existential questions that can often come off as pretentious but Jones gets away with it. For one, the music is often celebratory which helps and sometimes the lyrics are so over the top you kind of just laugh. For instance, on the song “Clouds of Magellan” I couldn't help but smirk when he sings (with a bit of delay on his voice), “From the Clouds of Magellan / To the Boat of Orion / In the eyes of a child / There’s time.” I felt like Jones knew exactly what he was doing, which made it work.
Abbot of Unreason was a complete DIY effort and for the most part sounds good production-wise. There are a couple of things you notice here and there that would have been tightened up if it was recorded at a professional studio but they are mostly innocuous.
After listening to this album a couple of times I think it’s safe to qualify it as a “grower.” It wasn’t something that immediately jumped out at me but after a couple of listens to songs it started to get better. Beware though, you may start singing some of the choruses in the shower. You may not even know why at first or who the artist is but you will figure it out. The album starts out with “Fly.” Jones combines what sounds like synthetic percussion, clean guitars with more than chorus effect, warm pads and sparsely placed base. It isn't long before he goes into an exuberant, cheerful type chorus that permeates most of the album.
“Clouds of Magellan” rides a similar wave of sounds but this time offers up an arpeggiated synth and chooses to split the song into two different emotional spaces The first half is melancholy even dark but about halfway through into the second chorus Jones bursts into a cheerful and ecstatic rendition.
“Out Of Time” is a percussive-heavy yet spacious track while “Never Let You Go” adds layers of instrumentation as it progresses. The album ends with arguably the highlight of the album called “You Say.” I really enjoyed the catchy chorus on this one.
Overall, Abbott of Unreason has few lulls and is a well written whimsical journey that is worth your time to check out.
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