Barry Gibb once said that some people have too much emotion to be anything other than a soul singer. Whilst few are as qualified as Gibb to hypothesis about soul, his belief does beg the question of where that emotion comes from; are the best soul artists so in touch with their senses that they can sing about unknown situations? Or alternately, to quote U2, do they ‘kill their inspirations and sing about their grief?’
Whatever his own reason for singing soul, Essex based Joseph J Jones does certainly do it well, inadvertently also offering a unique insight into a current epidemic.
Focused around the theme of being a young, working class male desperately trying (but failing) to stay away from peer pressure, relationship breakdowns and gang violence; Jones presents a genuine examination of the challenges faced by growing up at a time where society is challenging what it means to be masculine. And these are very real challenges; recent government statistics suggest that suicide is the number one reason for death in British males aged between 20-49.
As a document of modern times, Jone’s material joins the realms of classic soul albums that have journaled the times, most notably ‘What’s going on’ and ‘Superfly’. Perhaps closest in sound, and image, to ‘Banks’ era Plan B, Jones material is well formed and delivered with a unique voice which sounds distinctively British. ‘Broken Bones’, ‘Grief’, ‘Dirt’ and ‘Gospel truth’ all have minimal, slightly electronic, sounds, the lightness of which push the narrative of drugs, gun violence and drug pushers to the front; “You say it I’ll do it- I’ll put the word out” (Rough it up).
One to watch out for certainly, Jones is a man who’s voice, story and lyrics may well be the document people refer back to when reviewing our own times.