– by Louis Humberstone
For a long time now, London has represented a melting pot of cultures, and music from the city has often been innovative, as sounds from everywhere seem to bleed into artists’ influences. The latest artist with a passion for imagination and a synthesis of cultures is JONES, whose debut album New Skin takes little cues from all kinds of rhythmic and soulful music to create a warm and strong collection of songs.
Hailing from Whitechapel in the eastern corners of London, JONES is an incredibly talented singer with a debut that takes Pop music in a thoughtful direction with melancholic yet often optimistic songs which suggest a duality in song writing.
Such duality is explored on “Indulge”, beginning slow and rhythmic before reaching an uplifting chorus. The verses tell of finally finding someone to connect with. The line “The light in your eye when the whole world is sleeping” is an original take on “love” lyrics, with a focus that avoids cliché.
“Melt” is a contemporary, soulful approach to classic R&B, shuffling along to a drum machine and rising synth chords. A slow yet funky bassline runs through the track, making it extremely listenable. “Melt” affords clever lines delivered with confidence such as “Take it from someone/ who’s not a tough one” and “We’ve got the heat to last a lifetime/ this is the right time”. The vocal hook, “Melt with me”, pours with emotion and hits high notes showcasing JONES’ talent as a singer.
New Skin is the result of some talented studio collaborations for JONES. These include Lana Del Ray collaborator Justin Parker, producer and mixer Rodaidh McDonald, Sam Smith’s co-writer Tourist and AK Paul. Working with a variety of people allowed JONES to explore new ground and open up to experimentation. She says, “We all need the sad songs sometimes, but it’s good to have optimism too, to free your mind of things that make you unhappy.”
Album closer and title track “New Skin” begins with haunting sounds that give way to an equally haunting voice. The opening line “Swimming in the deep blue/ living out of reach” begins the song with lyrics that are visual and descriptive, accompanied by an almost magical vibe that moves in clever melodies. Ending the entire album is the line “Looking in the mirror/ who’s the face I see?” capturing the running themes of looking inwards and outwards that the album conveys.
Other great tracks include “Wild” a take on classic contemporary Pop that conveys a sense of unknowing, yet a resilience and persistence that promises to never give up. Taking the music in a different direction is “Hoops”; beginning fragile before strange electronics take the song to a fast chorus that moves to a heartbeat.
Announced as one of Spotify’s Spotlight Artists for 2016, JONES sounds modern and soulful, demonstrating an ability to listen and learn as well as use her platform to explore emotions and independence.
New Skin is a tidy and expressive effort which is well worth a listen for its rhythms, sounds, beats and soul, all of which point to an album that sounds distinctly 21st Century, yet also hints at a timeless quality only the best can manage.