Far From Saints “Far From Saints”

Ignition Records, 2023

It’s only Patty Lynn, Dwight Baker and Kelly Jones, FFS.

artwork for Far From Saints album Far From SaintsNot one to rest on his laurels, and although he has never even gone away, Kelly Jones is enjoying something of a renaissance right now. With a string of platinum and gold albums to their name, not to mention Eps, singles, videos and world tours, Stereophonics have been a popular main-stay in the UK music industry for over a quarter of a century. A new, first-rate and recently aired episode of ‘Greatest Albums Live’ on that well-known ‘Heavenly’ Arts channel showcased the band playing live and discussing ‘Just Enough Education to Perform‘, their best-selling 2001 album. Simultaneously, while promising big plans are afoot for Stereophonics over the next couple of years, Far From Saints has released its first eponymous album.

Far From Saints, the band, is a culmination of a friendship that began in 2013 when The Wind + the Wave supported Stereophonics. For his 2019 solo tour, Jones again enlisted the duo to open, further cementing his association with Patty Lynn (vocals) and Dwight Baker (guitar). And, all with formidable musical credentials of their own, the combination has struck gold.

Far From Saints‘, the album, is a memorable ten-song collection touching on themes of love, perseverance, self-doubt and self-healing. It was recorded in 2019, after Jones’ solo tour, but subsequent world events meant it was shelved indefinitely. Nevertheless, and with no pun intended, far from taking the wind out of its sails, it would seem the album has benefited from the lengthy distilling period, arriving at a time it can be fully appreciated by a broad audience. It has a cross-genre sound that will appeal to fans of americana, country, rock, folk, soul and blues. Something for everyone, with a clean, consistent feel and appeal. Traces of The Swell Season, Plant and Kraus, and even Shania Twain might sometimes be subtly detected to give an idea of the vibe. However, that said, the band has its own new, colourful and sharp sound. Lynn is a vibrant performer with a secure, irresistible vocal, which makes for a blissful sound when paired with Jones’ captivating and seductive charm.

Opening with ‘Screaming Hallelujah‘ and contrasting with the title, we are immediately treated to a gentle acoustic intro from Baker. This leads to a beautiful call-and-response style duet, building into a robust and dynamic message of, as Lynn describes, “acceptance and grace toward a fellow human being going through a difficult period of transition”. “It’s about change and growth, but with all the struggles that come with that”, adds Jones.

Faded Black Tattoo‘ follows and is a fabulous acoustic drama comparing a broken heart to, as the title suggests, a faded black tattoo. Then, with Lynn taking the lead vocal, ‘Take it Through the Night‘ is a gritty break-up song with mesmerising electric guitar to lose yourself in. ‘Let’s Turn This Back Around‘ is a conversation told from two distinct points of view, exploring the effects touring can have on the loved ones left behind. Beautifully orchestral in parts and sensationally building as they jointly declare and question, “I know I’ve been gone a while, and I really miss you… I guess it isn’t what you signed up for… Did it all work out? Did I change your mind? If it’s love, then why are we explosive all the time?”

There are some stunning instrumental parts throughout this album. The intro to ‘Gonna Find What’s Killing Me‘ is a case in point, the elegance continuing with another charming duet. ‘The Ride‘, on the other hand, takes on a much rockier vibe. Fans of slide guitar will surely enjoy ‘We Won’t Get Out Alive‘. The song, meanwhile, is an ardent call & response illustrating relationship turmoil “I don’t see how you can sweep this under the rug, And I don’t have the answer, but I know, If we keep on running, we won’t get out alive.” More slide guitar throughout ‘No Fool Like An Old Fool‘, the chorus of which has a great hook with “Every night I’m here on my own, All this time thinking over, Every time we talk on the phone, I feel a little closer.”

Next up, with a chorus of “Pick up the things you love, put down the things you don’t, No matter where you are, that will feel like home, Every time you drop your head, Look up over your Shoulder, Let the light shine over, Let the light shine over you“, the penultimate song ‘Let The Light Shine Over You‘ has an uplifting anthemic quality. The final piece then comes with a solid message to ‘Own It‘ and “… face what makes you afraid.”

You can’t take Stereophonics out of Kelly Jones. He, of course, embodies that band with his distinctive vocal quality. However, ‘Far From Saints‘ is an epic collection of new songs, co-written and brimming with fresh approaches and sounds and, to echo what Lynn says, “It’s an album, and it’s meant to be listened to from start to finish. That’s what I’d like for people to do.”


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