Live At Dark Star: Ian Jones
On debut full-length Results Not Typical, seasoned Seattle singer-songwriter Ian Jones defines Northwest Americana with melodic, timeless songcraft coupled to universally relatable storytelling and evocative regional imagery.
Released on April 7, the album’s 11 tracks wander a contemplative, poignant sonic landscape between mid-period Tom Petty, the best of ‘70s outlaw country, and James Taylor’s accessible folk-pop.
“I grew up in the shadow of Mount Rainier. My dad left when I was five, leaving a single mom with three kids, bread-and-cheese-line poor,” Jones recalled. “My babysitter was a record player.”
Raised on a steady vinyl diet of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and David Allan Coe, by the time he was in junior high Jones was writing his own songs on a beat-up classical guitar. After years in promising bands in Seattle, Santa Barbara, and L.A., he released his cathartic debut solo EP, Evergreens, in 2021. “Ian Jones is creating a sound all his own,” raved Ear to the Ground in its review of the 6-song release, which Exclusive Magazine dubbed “A seamless collection.”
Evergreens was also the sound of Jones getting serious as a solo artist. The lifelong compulsive songwriter, who often finds music coming to him unconsciously – sometimes literally in his dreams – felt he was yet to truly capture what he’d written on tape.
“I didn’t want to be laying on my deathbed saying, ‘what if I’d made a record with a great producer and the best musicians in the world’,” he mulled. “Now I can check that off my list.”
Reconnecting with producer Jesse Siebenberg (of Lucas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Supertramp, etc.), a friend from his SoCal days, Jones assembled an astonishing array of first-call players for two days of live tracking at Siebenberg’s Brotheryn Studios in bucolic Ojai, California.
“None of the guys had heard the songs prior. There was no click track, and we never did more than three takes,” Jones recalled. “And what you hear vocally on the record is what I was singing, beginning to end – no vocal comps, no overdubs, no anything.”
This throwback approach to recording inspired the title Results Not Typical and was made possible by the sheer pedigree of the players involved: drummer Joey Waronker (Beck, REM, Paul McCartney, Nora Jones); bassist Jonathan Flaugher (Ryan Adams); bassist Gabe Noel (Afghan Whigs, Father John Misty); guitarist Jason Soda (Miranda Lee Richards); violinist Paul Cartwright (Father John Misty); pianist Dave Palmer (Fiona Apple, Chris Isaak, T-Bone Burnett); and pianist Aaron Embry (Elliott Smith, Jane’s Addiction).
Comprising songs carefully culled from Jones’ vast unrecorded catalogue, Results Not Typical is a thematically coherent yet non-repetitive collection of poetic personal narratives flecked with a minor-chord melancholy seeping in from Seattle’s famously wet winters. While so much Americana music is embroidered with Southern or Southern California imagery – desert roads, big hats, blazing sun – Jones’ Northwestern strain is washed with his upbringing amidst mountains and woods, lakes and rain, and long cold nights indoors.
Delightfully airy and typically resonant album opener “Rollin” relates Jones traveling down to California, with Mount Shasta looming over the emotions of not only relocating, but also searching. “Athens Smiles” exemplifies the understated power of uncluttered songcraft which, like much of Results Not Typical, is both inspired by decades of travel as a journeyman musician and offers epic driving music for listeners.
Upbeat, earworm single “Lost Highway” resonates all the more for being deliberately ambiguous; a jaunty, horns-enhanced story that could be about a literal road, a girl, or discussing drugs. It’s in fact not inspired by any of these – but you’ll have to be at a show to hear the real story between songs from Jones himself!
The slow burning “Again” is the album’s sole non-autobiographical song but narrative nonetheless, tracing a tale of fictitious fugitives on the run across harsh terrain and perilous borders. The piano-based “She Is Lost” is a late-night lament that showcases Jones’ finely nuanced vocal timbre, while gorgeous album closer “Goodbyes Are the Hardest Words” recounts his leaving Seattle years ago, complete with a David Gilmour-inspired fever dream of a guitar solo.
“It’s a record that you can put on when you get home from a night on the town,” said Jones. “Something to unwind to with a nightcap, although there are also upbeat songs.”
Jones will accompany the release of Results Not Typical with extensive touring, both solo and with his rotating Living Room All-Stars Band. Each single will be followed by a live solo acoustic rendering of the same song, plus extensive video and social media content including behind-the-scenes and on-the-road b-roll.
“I believe I was put on this planet to write songs and perform. It’s a blessing and a curse,” Jones concluded. “But if I wasn’t a songwriter, I’d be divorced and probably drunk or dead. And if I write songs that bring people to tears, then I’ve done my job.”