It's been a while since I've heard
anything from Lloyd Jones, but his latest,
Tennessee Run, has been worth the wait. This
album is soulful, funky and brassy, and Jones' voice
with just a touch of rasp in it is perfect for the
material. The core backing band consists of Kevin
McKendree (keyboards), Steve Mackey (bass), Kenneth
Blevins (drums), Reinhardt Melz (percussion), Jim
Hoke (tenor sax), Quyentin Ware (trumpet) and Roy
Agee (trombone), with Etta Britt and Jackie Wilson
(no, not THAT Jackie Wilson) adding background
Each of the 14 cuts on Tennessee
Run are originals, showing that not only
can Mr. Jones sing and play the guitar but he's also
one heckuva songwriter.
Everything you need to know about
the music on Tennessee Run comes at you on
the first two cuts, with the wall of sound hitting
you square in the face. "You Got Me Good" is just
plain raucous soul/blues, an up-tempo number that
sounds at first a little like Otis Redding's "Can't
Turn You Loose." The rapid tempo continues on the
happy blues shuffle, "Me & You," with the horns
really blasting away as Jones sings about how he's
got everything that his woman needs. Switching over
to a tale of lost love, Teresa James shares vocals
with Jones on the mid-tempo blues, "I Wish I Could
Remember Loving You," with McKendree contributing
very fine piano accompaniment.
Just about everyone reading this
review can identify with the theme of the funky
"Where's My Phone?," as Jones spends just over three
minutes on a frantic search for his cellphone. We
share his frustration during the search as well as
the joy he expresses when he finally finds it.
That leads into a slow, soulful blues, "A True Love
Never Dies," a love song from Jones to the love of
his life (and, no, it's not his cellphone this
time!). As expected from the title, "Bayou Boys" has
that Louisiana swamp beat, with some polyrhythmic
drumming from the always excellent Blevins, an
echo-y guitar break from Jones, and very nice organ
playing by McKendree.
Before diving deep into the liner
notes, I made a note that at times Jones' voice
sound very reminiscent to that of Delbert McClinton.
While there is some similarity, McClinton himself
actually shows up as a guest on the mid-tempo blues,
"Everybody's Somebody's Fool." The pair sound pretty
good together. The band increases the tempo on "Turn
Me Loose," Jones' plea to his woman to let him go
because, "... you don't love me anymore, not the way
you used to love me before ..."
Things get all funky again in a New
Orleans way on "That's All I Want," with LaRhonda
Steele joining Jones on vocals. McKendree adds that
requisite piano accompaniment while the horns do
their thing. Jones tells Ms. Steele that he doesn't
want a lot of material possessions, but just wants
her in his arms. The funk remains on "Love Is
Everything," with female backing vocals in the mix
and a killer blues guitar solo from Jones who again
is head over heels in love during the course of this
song. His woman apparently gave Jones the heave-ho
as heard on the greasy blues, "Chicken Bones,"
because that's all she left for him. McKendree gives
us solid work on both piano and organ.
Jones falls back in love on the
mid-tempo blues, "Every Time We Meet," this time
pouring out his heart with some of his most soulful
vocals yet. The funky blues shuffle, "Dilly Dally,"
has him lamenting how his woman is treating him
while he lays down an abundance of wah wah effects
on guitar. Closing this very fine CD is "Chevrolet
Angel," a horn-driven funky blues in which his angel
in a midnight blue Corvette arrives just when his
Ford has broken down by the road, and she convinces
him to leave his car there and to fly away with her.
Now that's a good deal.
I hope we don't have to wait long
for the next album by Lloyd Jones, but at least
Tennessee Run will keep his fans happy for quite
some time. Don't hesitate to add this one to your
--- Bill Mitchell