Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Kelly Jones - Only The Names Have Been Changed (V2)

We don't get vinyl. Not in the sense that we don't purchase it, but we don't 'get' it. Sure, a million DJs could validate its assets in relation to dance genres. But as far as commercial releases are concerned, vinyl is all a bit gimmicky and pretentious, as if designed specially for Barleyesque tosspots like Peaches Geldof with a desire to say something cooler than 'MP3'.

Thankfully, Kelly Jones' first foray outside the Stereophonics has been finally given a proper release outside of its limited vinyl run earlier this year. Arguably a traditional concept album, Only The Names Have Been Changed plays like a Little Black Book read aloud, where Jones recounts one tale of sexual conquest per track. Perhaps a tacky idea on paper, but the novelty factor is soon nullified by the heavily emotional content and untouchable artistry.

A far more emotive and untreated affair than band material, and not surprisingly. The subject matter - and moreover, the album's honest presentation of it - leaves Jones laid completely bare, with his one-time detached, pint-swilling persona making way for new levels of vulnerability. A thematic collection of gentle, smoky sonnets, but each with a tone as unique as its story.

Emily is a bile-drenched tale of hotel room sleaze, while in comparison, the reminiscent longing of opening track Suzy holds echoes of a world-weary, scrubbed-raw James Walsh. Elsewhere, the jagged rockabilly ballad Violet almost takes a third-person narrative, demonstrating yet another dimension of what's actually an incredibly multi-faceted album, particularly when you consider it's constrained by such a strict remit.

There's little to find fault with, other than perhaps the difficulty to consider anyone named Jean in any form of carnal interaction. Seriously Kelly, if you're going to change the names, don't go using monikers usually reserved for great aunts. And the 2001 pop tart within was dubiously hoping Liberty wouldn't pass up the perfect opportunity to spit a vintage "L to the I to the B to the E to the R to the T-Y". Probably wouldn't fit with the slow-paced musicianship, mind.

In seriousness, Only The Names Have Been Changed demonstrates a sombre, incredibly personal side to Kelly Jones. For that reason, it may not tick any boxes for the Stereophonics purists - while the quality is on a par, the mood is exceptionally different. More importantly, it doesn't necessarily feel like it's just different for different's sake - music this introspective justifiably commands its own sound. And as downbeat and atypical as that sound may be, Jones shows that he's more than just a frontman; he's a human.

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