Cul De Sac guitarist Glenn Jones’ first solo album, This Is The Wind That Blows It Out, was a most auspicious debut. Its successor, which bears a similarly unwieldy name, equals or bests all of its predecessor’s virtues. The playing is a tad sharper, the performances drive home with more force. Jones has a solid grasp of the fundamentals, not just of his instrument, but also of music-making in general. He obtains attractive and varied tones from his several open-tuned acoustic guitars, and fashions them into involving, carefully-drawn and skillfully-paced audio narratives that impart emotions ranging from sweet affection to complicated grief.
This is music steeped in history both personal (several tracks pay homage to favorite people, places, and books) and instrumental. His playing is a catalogue of slide and fingerpicking techniques, proudly and ably (but never gratuitously) displayed. The lapping waves on the record’s closing piece “Island 2” recalls John Fahey’s experiments with concrete sounds, while its quivering, bending strings betray a highly attuned awareness of Blind Willie Johnson’s oeuvre and the multitudes who have mined his playing.
“Every guitarist should have at least one train song,” Jones writes in the album’s liner notes, and “Bill Muller on the Erie Lackawanna” is an honorable addition to the canon. It also represents the multi-faceted quality of Jones’ music; his tunes are rarely about just one thing. The piece opens with a slowly accelerating chug that brings to mind a steam engine, and then hurtles through quick turns and thrilling straightaways. But a nagging dissonance erodes the exhilaration. It turns out that Muller, a real person who walked along the tracks with Jones during their shared years of adolescent aimlessness, was nearly driven mad by the solitude of the railroad job that had been his childhood dream.
Against Which The Sea Continually Beats proves that The Wind blew true; its improvements declare Jones to be a musician whose moment has arrived.
By Bill Meyer