Southpaw Jones,
One in the Door,
One in the Grave

(self-produced, 2002)

Southpaw Jones is original, no doubt about it. He talks about things American and issues American in a very folksy manner. As I listened to this CD, I could imagine sitting in his basement rec room, or Southpaw's bedroom after school, listening to him strum guitar and letting loose about what's on his mind.

With a little more training, or a little more energy, his voice could carry these tunes of his to a new place. The lyrics aren't any better or worse than most of what's out there, but they need arrangement and a focus to bring out what's best in them. He dips at the end of a verse or line, as if he's not sure what's coming next. I can't figure out if he's recorded these off the top of his head, or if he has actually reworked original material.

The themes spoken of here are love, the U.S. dollar, government and college decisions. Southpaw is a master at blending romantic dreaminess with crude practicality. He sings to a girl about how she "stands there looking beautiful," but his next line tells her she's put on weight. He continues "entranced by your complexion, enamored by your smile, I'm living off interest in you. It might sound hokey, but it's true." And "You're all that's happening between my ears, and I'm sure I'll get bored with you someday, but now it's safe to say I'm living off interest in you." The lyrics are sometimes hilarious, but his voice is so serious, I'm not sure if the CD is totally tongue-in-cheek or not.

Elementary rhyming techniques are overdone, and lyrics are clichˇd and the lines could be improved with smoother delivery. Instead, he goes from breathy to hard in the same line; stops and starts, so the thoughts of the song get lost in the in-betweens. He has a wonderful voice that could easily put some unity into all of these cuts.

In another song, he's working at a diner where people enter with their troubles. The only solution he has for them is a "Slab of Pie" (apple, no doubt). He cuts issues of poverty, prostitution and drugs, down to the human needs of hunger and comfort. His ideas are worthy and true.

He strongly opens the CD with smooth guitar and a voice that easily moves you through a wide range of moods. His guitar sounds expensive, his voice sounds cultured, but his product is generally unfinished, at least to my ear. This is coffeehouse music, beautiful guitar playing, a bit of harmonica and off-the-cuff lyrics customed for the crowd, probably to engender some feedback. Let's wait and see what happens next with this musician.

[ by Virginia MacIsaac ]
Rambles: 11 October 2002