Glenn Jones - My Garden State (Thrill Jockey)

Mr Jones brings peace and clarity with his latest effort

Released May 13th, 2013 via Thrill Jockey / By Ben Wood
Glenn Jones - My Garden State (Thrill Jockey) Super-talented guitarist Glenn Jones has quite a reputation - and quite a repertoire. While his improvisatory band Cul De Sac, which features legendary ex-Can frontman Damo Suzuki, had their noisy moments, his solo work is considerably mellower.

Jones is a devotee of John Fahey's American Primitivist school of acoustic guitar-playing, his solo work characterised by alternate tunings and the use of partial capos. But you don't need to be able to tell an augmented fourth from a minor third to enjoy My Garden State.

Jones has said that his playing is all about expressing emotion, rather than an empty show of technique. He's right - this is music for contemplation, an individual style that mashes folk, blues and Eastern influences into something truly exceptional. These may be instrumentals, but Jones shows his facility with words through evocative titles like ‘The Vernal Pool’ and ‘Like a Sick Eagle Looking at the Sky’.

Alternating between guitar and banjo, Jones mixes in wind chimes, rainfall and other elements to create an organic sound that seems timeless. In a music scene where every month sees the birth of a spurious new micro-scene, it's refreshing to come across someone playing what he loves without regard for the whims of fashion.

If an electric guitar player isn't that great, there are countless amps, pedals and FX of all description to make them sound better (naming no names, The Edge...). John Martyn may have famously blown people's minds with an Echoplex, but by and large you can't fool anyone when playing acoustic. You've either got those chops or you haven't - and Jones certainly has.

The sound of fingerpicked acoustic guitar is a particularly human one and, as a result, the album sounds like an ongoing conversation. It's very melodic - the tune is never sacrificed for the sake of showing off. As the record progresses time seems to slow down, suspending the listener in an eternal now where every note has something to say.

Usually, when people say “it's all about the music”, you're about to be force-fed some stodgy Stereophonics-style fare. Not this time. If you've been listening to a lot of noisy stuff recently, or are struggling to summon up the requisite enthusiasm for the latest Best Thing Ever, this album is the perfect musical palate-cleanser.