Small Town Jones “Kintsugi”

Broken Sea Records, 2024

Japanese art form inspires reflections on healing and hope.

artwork for Small Town Jones album "Kintsugi"When Slaid Cleaves and Rod Picott wrote ‘Broke Down’ they described a double-crossed heart as “cracked and shattered, left in pieces like it never even mattered”. The image suggests finality but Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery, using gold to heal the cracks and to fashion objects more beautiful and resilient than they were before. Taking this art form as the title of their new release, Small Town Jones see life as a process in which our frailties and mistakes can be healed, restored or made stronger as we learn through experience.

Singer-songwriter Jim Jones is the Devon-based creative force behind the record, his first in six years. Mixed by Luke Burgoyne and long-time collaborator and producer Michael Reed, Jones is able to draw upon his own troubled youth as well as his professional life working in youth justice and as a therapeutic mentor to young people.

Getting straight down to business, the opening track and single release ‘Better Days’ is about being broken. It tackles depression but looks to a brighter future as Jones sings in a gentle falsetto, helplessly hoping.

There’s trauma in ‘We Alive’, Jones describing the physical pain of his troubled mind, but again, there’s hope in the refrain. ‘Go Easy on Yourself’ looks at someone going through experiences that Jones recognises and can sympathise with –

“I’ve known that pain you bear
I’ve heard those voices too”

Reaching a climax with its urgent instrumental section, there’s optimism in the ensemble playing before things quieten for ‘Evening Glow’, a reflection on the search for peace, however transient, and even if inspired by the bottle.

Another single release, ‘The Mist and the Light’ is a gentle waltz with the strings of violinist Rebecca Balzani Barrow and David Smale on double bass. It builds beautifully and reflects the Kintsugi message.

The fear and pain of being separated from a loved one informs ‘Castaway’ where Jones lets his voice ebb and flow like the waves while ‘3.33’ continues the sense of isolation, this time through a sleepless night.

‘We Are All Each Other’ ups the scale as Jones contemplates a family and a world in crisis, accompanied on guitar by friend and collaborator Peter Bruntnell.

Alongside the airy-light vocals of ‘The Path’, Holly Carter’s ethereal pedal steel captures the spirit of Kintsugi, the cracks audibly healing as the pair sing and play in perfect harmony. Then, personifying the art form as a mental health practitioner, in ‘Mr Kintsugi’ Jones reminds his doctor that imperfections are what make us strong –

“Oh Mr Kintsugi
What gold you speak to me
The brokenness you see
Is part of the beauty, Mr Kintsugi”

‘Safe In Sound’ is a natural choice for the final track, its intimacy and healing power strongly supported through the guitar playing of Dave Little and bass of Nathan Layland, and the accompanying vocals of Abbe Martin and Hannah Wood from Sound of the Sirens.

Like the pottery from which the album draws its inspiration, ‘Kintsugi’ may have its cracks but from composition through to its polished playing and production, there is strength and beauty in the completed work.

7/10
7/10

About Chas Lacey 20 Articles
My musical journey has taken me from Big Pink to southern California. Life in the fast lane now has a sensible 20mph limit which leaves more time for listening to new music and catching live shows.
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