Itís a measure of how various musical forms have been turned and twisted by fashion that from the opening notes of Billy Jonesís Tha Bluez album, you are immediately transported into Hall & Oates Philly soul territory.
Billy Jones may not even be familiar with the above, but on this album he has carved out a delicious mix of funky soul and distant blues grooves. On, I Like It Like That he delivers a sultry vocal on one of the albumís most sensuous tracks, utilising little more than his voice, piano and bass
In fact itís not until the third track Deal Wit Daí Devil, which unashamedly deals with a crack cocaine problem that he employs his guitar. Again the piece is underpinned by thudding bass and beautifully delivered delicate piano lines.
Billyís oeuvre appears to be all about capturing the mood of a song through establishing several deep grooves. At Daí Crossroads employs a John Fogarty style guitar figure, and is a real southern swampy blues outing, topped by Billyís emotive phrasing.
When Billy does slip into a more straight ahead funky groove on Ainít Good Lookiní he toughens up his vocal delivery to emphasize the new groove heís just slipped into it. Few blues albums worthy of the name are as original as this, and fewer still drip with as much feel and emotion. If you are looking for a trail blazing guitar led slice of rock blues, you are listening to the wrong guy, although as on Barnyard Blues, Billy does show that he has the chops to burn with the best of them. But it is with tracks like Breakin Away, that Billy excels. Itís a sparsely arranged track, with the emphasis on voice and percussion and of course details the traditional blues subject matter of relationship troubles.
A deeply expressive singer with a truck load of original songs, full of soulful bluesy grooves, and a smattering of understated guitar make Billy Jones one of the more interesting proponents of contemporary urban blues.