Nate Jones Band – The Nate Jones Band EP (2014)

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Let’s face it, the criteria of what makes a good singer-songwriter record are usually straightforward: does the singer-songwriter sing well and two, does he sing good songs? This upcoming EP by Cleveland, Ohio’s Nate Jones passes those tests with flying colors. The Nate Jones Band EP, expected out February 18, has a third thing going for it: the clean, listenable and non-too-slick production job by Dave Douglas (Relient K), and presents Jones’ profound presentation and his timeless sound.

Jones has been compared to Stephen Stills, Amos Lee and John Mayer and sings a little like Kenny Loggins, while his four-piece band for this disc echoes the soulful side of Tom Petty. There are times where Jones & Co. shows the unmistakable trace of his time playing and performing in New Orleans (especially on the swampy “Ophelia”).

The combination of Jones’ acoustic and Chris Hanna’s B3 organ showcases a prime intersection of folk and soul on the advance single “Another Night, Another Town,” and Jones shows off some pretty good electric guitar chops on “Honest Man” and “Wandering Love.” He can pilot the emotional current in a ballad like “What Goes Up,” which swells up from just his voice and acoustic guitar to something anthemic before returning to its simple roots.

With a fleckless blend of handcrafted rock, folk, country, soul, and blues, the five-song The Nate Jones Band EP would qualify for quality pop back in the 70s. It’s way too good for pop music today, but definitely worth checking out.

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