|Upon returning from another successful European tour with his power trio, L.A.-based guitarist Dennis Jones dove headlong into songwriting for his seventh album. The stalwart singer songwriter and guitar gunslinger crafted another set of tunes showcasing his musical dexterity and poignant worldview. The title references the dynamic range of the trio, who can go from a whisper to a scream, “Soft Hard and Loud.”
The sessions began in February 2020 but met with stoppages and challenges that most artists are facing in this year. Undaunted, Jones used the time to craft thought provoking lyrics and ear grabbing riffs on another energetic set of high-powered blues funky rock and super charged soul. His muscular rhythm section of Raymond Johnson on drums and bass player Cornelius Memes, who co-produced the album with Jones, blaze on every track showing off their formidable shops earned by countless hours on the road playing shows from small gin joints to colosseum seating venues. The trio invited special guests Bennett Paysinger, a keyboard monster, whose credits include Beyoncé, Snoop Dog and Demi Lovato, to drop tasty Hammond B-3 on track two, Jason Freeman on Hammond B-3 on track nine, while vocalists Michael Turner and Allison August added sweet harmonies on track five.
Jones early aspirations as a drummer shine through on the tantalizing rhythms of the opening track ‘Revolves Around You,’ along with its precocious word play. The autobiographical ‘I Love The Blues’ speaks openly about his small-town roots and growing up in rural Maryland with a family that supported his musical ambitions. Jones uses an overdriven Les Paul plugged straight into an amp firing a riff over a four on the floor beat to deliver his assessment of the current state of the world on the acerbic rocker ‘Like Sheep.’ Howlin’ Wolf made the world aware of the southern phraseology, ‘Back Door Man,’ in 1960; here Jones flips that idea around on the fast moving blues ‘Front Door Man, entreating his lady to make him her number one lover. He gets romantic on the classic R&B sonnet ‘Nothing On You,’ extolling the virtues of his favorite lady like the Bard of Burbank.
Reggae has often been associated with rebel music, so with another notion to turn popular conventions on their head Jones calls for us to “All come together now, and love one another now,“ on the island anthem ‘I Hate Hate.’ A jagged Stratocaster line helps him give advice to a friend on the rocking ‘Gonna Be Alright,’ that features more of that dynamic interplay between him and the rhythm section. Heavy duty bump and grind blues ‘When I Wake Up’ is a fiery showstopper full guitar pyrotechnics, revealing Jones’ influences from Hendrix styled wah wah and Buddy Guy inspired bravado.
Taking liberty with the ‘Stormy Monday’ chord changes for another slow blues, ‘I’m Not,’ allows Jones and the crew to stretch out for a dynamic extended jam. Jones saves the bulk of his angst for the finale; guitar driven vigorous rebuke of Southern culture, ‘Burn The Plantation Down,’ exorcising the demons inside a man in bondage, struggling to set himself and his family free. Another fine effort from a hard-working showman and his team.
Rick J Bowen