185 Clingman Ave. Asheville, NC 28801
Press play on Jones’ mesmerizing new album, Stories Up High, and you’ll find yourself transported there, too. Recorded at East Nashville’s famed Bomb Shelter studio with producer Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes, Langhorne Slim), the collection is lush and immersive, with rich, elegant arrangements that ebb and flow beneath Jones’ velveteen vocals. The performances here are graceful and timeless, evoking a faded, old Hollywood glamor full of longing and melancholy, but dig a bit beneath the surface and you’ll find that Jones is actually an optimist at heart, a believer in the relentless beauty of this mixed-up world. She wrote the album in what she describes as a “flow state,” surrendering herself to the creative process the way a monk might approach meditation, and the result is a captivating, cinematic work that’s equal parts stream-of-consciousness and careful introspection, an honest, intuitive record that hints at everything from Angel Olsen and Judy Garland to Brandi Carlile and Andy Shauf as it reckons with growth, change, and the very fabric of life itself.
“Strange as it sounds, I found myself sitting there crying while I was writing some of these songs because they came with such deep realizations about myself,” Jones confesses. “The music was there for me when I needed it most.”
Jones earned widespread acclaim with a string of early releases, drawing comparisons to the likes of Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver for her majestic take on organic roots music. Her 2013 debut, Golden Road, landed her a nationally televised performance at The Kennedy Center alongside Alison Krauss, Sara Bareilles, and Ben Folds, while her 2016 follow-up, Laney Jones, prompted Rolling Stone to hail her as an Artist You Need To Know and praise her “penetrating hooks” and “Seventies-era flourishes.” Tracks from the albums, meanwhile, racked up millions of streams on Spotify and turned up in films from major studios like Disney and Pixar alongside commercials for Google, Netflix, New Balance, Toyota, and Red Bull.
“I’m really proud of those first couple records,” Jones explains, “but they were the result of going into the studio for a week or so and coming out with a finished product. They were these little snapshots of wherever I happened to be at the moment. This time around, though, I wanted to give myself the time and the space to go beyond that, to work without any kind of limitations.”
So Jones let Stories Up High unfold at its own pace, capturing the record over the course of several years and multiple recording sessions. The new songs she found herself writing bore less of the rustic, folk-inspired imprint of her previous work and instead drew on a hazy, more abstract palette of airy indie-rock textures reminiscent of Big Thief or Sharon Van Etten. Leaning into all the radical change going on her personal life (most notably her engagement and marriage to drummer Brian Dowd), Jones embraced the new, more self-assured versions of herself that emerged each time she shed her skin and allowed them to guide her on her creative path.