Billy Jones – Roy On the Hill
This set performed by Billy Jones with Slainte (his band) comes 40 years after his first LP & 10 records. This new set features 12 originals that display Jones’ many influences – Irish, Scottish & American folk music, rockabilly, country, blues & roots music.
Produced by Danny Johansson in Gothenburg, Sweden Roy On the Hill (Released May 1– Beejayzuz Music) showcases the rootsy Billy Jones (acoustic guitar/lead & harmony vocals) who wrote & arranged all songs. They immediately have a warm traditional sound. A country-styled fiddle saws on through the opening song “Mirror, Mirror,” with a bright catchy melody.
Shades of 50s rock n’ roll dominate the upbeat “Thunder” that’s filled delightfully with country inflections where Billy Jones really lets loose with his rockabilly voice. The steady tap, fiddle sawing & banjo picking has an abundance of sawdust, cider & barbecue.
The title track “Roy On the Hill,” is about a dog & it’s told like Elvis’ antique ballad “Old Shep,” with slow lullaby-like melodic storytelling. The recording production is lukewarm – not much clarity in any string playing. The fiddle could’ve been a little more upfront. Jones’s vocals are vintage sounding, warm & mostly modest.
“October,” has better guitar clarity but Billy’s voice sounds buried. Much better vocals on “Gone Too Long.” The tunes possess a nice vintage sound as if they were written & recorded 75 years ago. Nice effect. Lyrics are poignant in each – Jones maintains a distinguished continuity in his material.
A real jewel comes with “Till the Moon Comes Down,” & “We Make Love,” – both simple but imaginative. Billy lays down spirited vocals in a cross between John Mellencamp & Randy Newman. It’s peculiar & attractive. His voice is suited to these types of songs. It has a home-grown appeal & it surfaces with power in “In the Name of the Devil,” – with its chiming guitars steeped in American roots music often found in the voices of Tony Joe White & J.J. Cale. “Moon,” unleashes a blistering guitar solo with clarity & focus. Drums are steady & thick & some songs even have some “colorful” words.
There really isn’t a bad tune here. The production could’ve been better balanced. A different microphone for the vocals?
Highlights –“Mirror, Mirror,” “Thunder,” “Roy On the Hill,” “October,” “Till the Moon Comes Down,” “In the Name of the Devil,” “We Make Love,” “Gone Too Long” & “The End.”
Slainte musicians – Jonas Liljestrim (fiddle), Tony Tuddenham (drums/mandolin), David Odlow (melodeon/accordion/lap steel guitar), Simon Ericson (banjo), Pelle Bolandes (electric fiddle/whistling), Teddy Kaiser (electric guitar), Danny Johansson (bass/electric & acoustic guitars), Emily Brown (harmony vocals) & Jessica Ericsson (backing vocals).
The 38-minute CD has a stitched lyric insert. Color images courtesy of Billy’s Facebook. CD @ Amazon & https://www.liljansmusik.com/2023/05/01/sv-SE/nytt-album-med-billy-jones-och-sl%C3%A1inte!-46398934 + https://www.hemifran.com/artist/Billy%20Jones/