Muleskinner Jones

Muleskinner Jones wouldn’t half like to be Nick Cave and, face it, there aren’t enough Nick Caves in the world, so all power to his elbow. This is his first album length offering but a generous and deranged EP showed off his powers last year. There are years of work here in the big pile of songs. Not, maybe in the lo-fi production, but in the concentrated wordplay and ideas. “The only birds with which I converse are Wild Turkey and Famous Grouse”. Mr Jones is actually James Closs and the album was recorded at home in rural Wiltshire, not in a trailer under the Mojave sun as you might have imagined. It revels in oddness and individuality while treading a known road between the blues, country and The Fall. As the Muleskinner says about selling his record collection to fund this album, “I kept the Harry Smith Folk Anthology, Trout Mask Replica and everything by The Fall”.

You can here those three in the peculiar blend of songs. From honky tonk to bluegrass to plunky ballads to country blues, the music traverses Americana in a strangely English eccentric manner, accompanied by Jones’ alternately quietly delivered and fuzztonal screamed lyrical journeys. From the Roswell aliens hanging out in bars to holiday memories to the American Civil War to “drinking to get drunk” to western epic. A tribute to Hank Williams, Between God And The Bottle, is heartfelt and Satan Is My Bitch is a very silly attempt at a Christian rock song. The Hank Williams song shows a genuine love and the reading of a letter from publisher Fred Rose (as in Acuff and Rose) brings a note of tragedy to the affair.

This is a labour of love from an individual determined to create his own vision without interference. It deserves your attention.

Ross McGibbon