Kat Jones: La Rosa, La Calavera (Velvet Blue Music, 2004)
It seems that, these days, solo female artists are all the rage. In particular, female singer/songwriters have been so successful that many regard such artists as a subgenre all their own. With such an embracing climate for solo female artists, it comes as no surprise that even in the independent music scene one would find more and more talented women trying their hand at the rock and roll business. Kat Jones is a singer/songwriter out of California with “the wind pipes of a goddess” (Jason of Somewhere Cold) who has taken such a plunge into the dark recesses of the music world. Through a short but noted 3 song EP entitled Building on California’s Velvet Blue Music and endless touring across the country (not to mention her independent EP release The Glory Green), Jones has been able to build a devoted fan base and gain momentum heading into her first full-length release for the label. On La Rosa, La Calavera, Jones goes a long way in fulfilling her potential as yet another rising solo female star.
Produced by wunderkind Frank Lenz, La Rosa, La Calavera is not a typical singer/songwriter CD with a pseudo-folk vibe. Rather, the music spans the stylistic spectrum from rock to pop to intimate introspective blues and even a vaudevillian-type track. While the manner in which the musical styles on La Rosa, La Calavera jump around may annoy some listeners, the key to listening to Jones’s music is to listen to the songs. And a careful listen of the actual songs will reveal that the varying styles of the songs perfectly suit each track. The vaudevillian track, “The Night is a Veil”, opens the CD, with a piano and strange keyboard sounds giving the song feel of a slightly sinister and dark circus. Following this curious musical entity, where, as on other tracks, Jones handles the vocals ably, the wonderful “Those Expensive Eyes” begins. Featuring a full rock band approach with a slight 60’s feel, the song builds to a beautiful bridge, all the while showcasing Jones’ incredible vocals. In fact, if there is one distinctive in Jones’ releases to this date, it’s her passionate and nimble voice that she uses to both caress the ear of the listener and belt out aggressive notes. Of course, this is not to say that her songwriting isn’t noteworthy, because Jones shows on songs like “Sleeping Winter Fool” that she can write well-crafted melodies that progress majestically as the song is sung. On “Sleeping Winter Fool”, a slow song oozing with longing and permeated with a folk undertone and rock soul, Jones again demonstrates her vocal dynamic range. Other standouts on La Rosa, La Calavera that demonstrate the talent of Jones (as well as the sensitivity Lenz treats her songs with) is the ethereal “Letters”, the alt-country laced “One More Second Chance” (which again showcases Jones’ ability to write well-formed songs and sing as good as any popular female solo act), and the intimate piano-ballad of “When Answers Don’t Come”.
La Rosa, La Calavera is a snapshot of a young artist who passionately and intelligently pours her soul into her music. And in the end, this quality, along with that siren-wail of a voice, endears Kat Jones to the listener. Listening to La Rosa, La Calavera, you just know that she means every word she sings, and that every ounce of sincerity has been squeezed into the songs. It’s hard not to like an artist who is so transparent AND talented at the same time, especially in today’s world of indie hipsters who are too cool to show their vulnerability. And, while the music of La Rosa, La Calavera is a little hard to peg, the variety of styles present on the CD display Jones’ ability to pen hardy tunes that will stand the test of time.
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