K.C. Jones “Queen of the In Between”

Free Dirt Records, 2021

The first solo album from the talented singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist K.C. Jones is an impressive dive into old and new Americana.

K.C. Jones (a.k.a. Kelli Jones-Savoy) may be deeply influenced by divergent styles of music, but on “Queen Of The In Between,” the result is quite seamless, avoiding the trap of sounding like a genreless hodgepodge that so many eclectic artists fall into. The album sounds like a friend pouring her heart out over a couple of rounds in a dive bar. There are moments of old-time mountain music but just as many moments of psych, pedal steel country, Fleetwood Mac, and ‘60s pop, especially when she lets her irresistible edgy Stevie Nicks rock vocals loose. Although Jones grew up in South Carolina and was educated in Appalachian music through her fiddle-playing father, her voice sounds like part of the Louisiana landscape itself, both the rural backwoods and the urban areas like Lafayette (her hometown), New Orleans, and Baton Rouge, full of sultry heat and impenetrable shadows.

“Beginnings And Ends,” about the unsettling feeling of not knowing where one stands in a relationship, is coloured by western-tinged guitar riffs by way of Joe Walsh. “Heat Rises” is one of the more overtly country-inspired tracks, with a simple but powerful arrangement reminiscent of the stellar arrangements of her Cajun band Feufollet, and the striking line “nothing left of what once was everything.” The title track features clever girl group backing vocals, taking a wry look at Jones’s own indecisiveness and ambivalence. “Bring The House Down” is a slow, spooky, gothic take on self-isolating depression, with a dark undercurrent like “I Put A Spell On You,” with a snaking organ melody. She warns of the kind of evil mood that is infectious, the kind that makes you want to wear black even though it’s August and 100 degrees outside at midnight, “chasing out the light that gets in.”

Jones described for Under the Radar how the song was created: “Well, I’ll paint a picture. I was very depressed, living in a tiny crappy apartment in a weird neighborhood, recently separated, and completely lost and alone refusing for months to even look for a silver lining. This song came about during that period. I really liked the idea of using the phrase ‘bring the house down’ as a kind of warning for people to not come around or be involved in my life during this. I could definitely bring anyone and everyone in the house down to my shitty state of mind at the time, and that is what sparked this song and the conflicting ‘Alice in wonderland-y’ imagery in the verses. While writing this song I wanted all the twists and turns of the verse and chorus to ride on this one simple guitar/bass line I had written. I wanted it to float on it but also wanted the driving force of it to fade into the background so the contrast of the melody could shine here and there. My initial idea was that musically this song should sound like it has no definite beginning and no definite end, and that it just existed in its own dimension with that bass line going on forever.”

Another highlight, “Stop On The Way,” has a bluesy, swooping chorus and fuzzy guitar out of The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” The minimalist ending track “Lost My Way” is about coming out of a depression and finally getting out of bed and opening the blinds and curtains. There is the sudden realization that, while in a funk, time and seasons have passed. Her voice here is as smooth as the sound of rain falling from a cypress tree. 

“Queen of the In Between” is a well-earned opportunity to expand Jones’s repertoire and, like the sentiment on “Lost My Way,” an intriguing step in a new direction. 

8/10
8/10

About Kimberly Bright 21 Articles
Freelance writer specializing in music and art, British, Canadian, and American music and cultural history, flyover states, session musicians, overlooked and unsung artists. Author of 'Chris Spedding: Reluctant Guitar Hero.'

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