Big Songs from a small country
JOHN JONES is best known as the powerful, charismatic singer with
OYSTERBAND, one of the leading folk and roots outfits on the UK
music scene, acclaimed by music critics and fans alike; recipients
of numerous Music Awards. The group more recently reunited with
an early collaborator - the singer June Tabor - and took this second
pairing on tour, to the Folk Awards and on 'Later
on TV. John also has a parallel solo career and 'Never Stop Moving'
is his second and most creative album.
The background to the album is interesting in that it came at a
time of change for both Oysterband and John Jones. The group had
lost another of its long-time members, Ray "Chopper" Cooper,
to a solo career and had begun to simplify towards a more spare,
trad rootsy sound. Then, out of the blue, John had a brush with
a serious illness and, as these things so often do, it focused his
songwriting even more clearly.
"'Never Stop Moving', says John, "is the album I have
been making alongside (Oysterband's) ''Diamonds on the Water' over
the past three years, inspired in no small part by my walking tours
across the length and breadth of the country. Hopefully it reveals
my fascination for the hidden villages and voices of this beautiful,
curious and contradictory country and the haunting stories that
exist beneath the surface. Inevitably my own story, having been
diagnosed with colon cancer at the end of last year, became intertwined
with it and following a really creative period, what I always thought
of as my English folk, country album of big songs from small stories
has become an expression of my own revival and celebration of being
alive. I wanted there to be a mood of gentle uplift on the album,
even in the darker stories and, when the song 'Never Stop Moving'
arrived late, it seemed to capture my own feeling of being a survivor
and became the title.
"Somewhere and sometime in my life", he continues, "the
grandeur of folk music, the power of story-telling, church music,
punk and Northern Soul have intertwined and helped form my music.
Somehow my voice just gets stronger and more inventive and at my
age that is pretty amazing. The songs are a product of my imagination,
which seems to be freer to roam these days, reckless but not as
bitter or angry".
Along for the musical ride is a host of talented musicians and
singers, including Al Scott, Benji Kirkpatrick, Lindsey Oliver,
Tim Cotterell, Boff Whalley, Rowan Godel and François Deville,
their instrumental and background vocal contributions a perfect
fit for John's lead vocals, compositions and musical vision.
"I always think that unlike the small, personal songs of a
huge country that seems to characterize, say, American country music,
British folk ballads here on such a small island have an epic scale
and sweep to them. 'Big songs from a small country' is how I'd like
to sum up this album but of course that might be a hostage to fortune".