BY PELLE GUNTHER So cold. Hands numb. Lights dimming. And then Justin Jones came out and let us know that he, too, was in fact freezing his ass off in the First Unitarian Church Tuesday night. His first song “The Gutter”, off his new release The Little Fox EP, felt fitting in these frigid temperatures of the sanctuary. The lyrics are steeped in a darkened past, that Jones seems to have left behind with happier songs like “Little Fox”. Regardless of what he was singing though, Justin Jones [pictured, above] wielded a mighty voice, beautiful rich tenor with a slight southern rasp. Using this and a guitar he spun unbelievably dynamic and beautiful songs, harkening back to the likes of Dylan and Young, proving yet again that an acoustic guitar and a voice are all one needs. It was clear that the man felt the music he was playing and filled them with feelings of heartbreak, of joy, of loss and of longing.
On the other hand, Damon Gough, England’s Badly Drawn Boy, came out to be more of a terribly sketched middle-aged man if you’ll pardon my punning. His voice had clearly suffered from time, cigarettes, and lack of maintenance, and his guitar playing rivaled it. On top of that I couldn’t help but feel that his heart was not in the performance, especially after a half hour when he asked back stage to see if he’d played for long enough. To top that off he decided towards the end of the set that he couldn’t make it and went to smoke a cigarette before playing his last few tunes. This is not to say that Badly Drawn Boy was bad. In fact he had some amazing moments. Just that he was rusty. Like a nice bike left outside for a few months; when it came down to it, the bike is still very nice, just in some serious need of repairs. His rust caused him to botch up half the songs on Hour of the Bewilderbeast, including “Once Around the Block” for which he used a loop station for the first time…badly.
Lucky for Damon Gough he’s still a witty bastard and had the whole crowd laughing throughout the act. On top of his charming humor, hearing him play his new tunes was refreshing, and gave me hope for his musical career. Towards the end he brought out some other musicians and played his new songs from his latest album Its Not What I Am Thinking. Unlike Jones, Gough clearly needed more than a guitar and his voice, but with an extra guitar, bass and a tambourine his act was improved tenfold. His song “I Saw You Walk Away” shows a very mature songwriter who still hasn’t lost his touch, even if he’s a little rusty on his past. If he’d been backed by his full band, instead of playing as a solo act my impression would have almost definitely been different, but in this situation, Justin Jones stole my heart for the night.