Changing your life is just about the hardest thing to try and do. It often ends in failure because old and ingrained habits are truly hard to break. There are of course plenty of success stories out there but far often there are more tales of failure which themselves often fail to get told, so that the only histories we have of changing lives are those celebrated success stories.
Many of these stories fail to fully document the hard road to these successes. That’s exactly what North Carolina singer/songwriter Tim Jones sets out to do on his debut solo record Dead and Gone.
Jones wrote these songs years before, mostly in 2011, they were recorded. They were influenced by the death of the musician Wes Phillips, whom Jones was listening to a lot during that time and also by the death of Jone’s former self and the dissolution of many old relationships.
Dead and Gone opens with the haunting country dirge “Appalachian Song.” Over a quick picked acoustic guitar Jones laments a dark mantra “Fog come rollin' o'er mountain side / Fog come rollin' on down / Fog come rollin' o'er mountain side / Lay your body down.” Next comes the breathy and beautiful and slightly bluesy “Alina.”
There is a soft hush in the background almost like the sound of gentle waves which helps to give it some depth and dimension it may not have otherwise had, and it would be unfair not to note the wonderful production on Dead and Gone, courtesy of producer Chris Robinette.
For an album about great difficulties and challenges Dead and Gone is rather a beautiful record. Take the six-minute long “Ballad of the Ghost” which unfolds slowly and gracefully as though it is being borne along by a breeze. Then there is the soft yet powerful “Road” which reminded me a bit of the cool vibes which Lou Reed and co. breathed into the Velvet Underground. This is followed by the ghostly sounding “Background Man” which recalled to me the acoustic solo work of Neil Young.
In the end Dead and Gone may be an album about a life that no longer exists, which makes listening to the record a bit like visiting the dead, which in this case is a trip worth taking time and again.
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