I usually like to get my adjectives in order before I begin discussing an artist, and, while shuffling through the thesaurus in my head, the best I could manage to describe Matt Jones was "lithe." True, it's a term heaped more often on strippers than indie folksters, but it seems oddly fitting to describe Jones' nimble, carefully orchestrated tunes. An Ann Arbor/Ypsi folk stalwart with an impending Daytrotter session, Matt Jones sings sly, beautiful songs in a sharp, controlled voice that at times is reminiscent of the Weakerthans, of Jeff Buckley, but with a slightly more theatrical bent.
To call the man and his music folk would be to do him a bit of a disservice: His album "The Black Path" (recorded with another AA music notable, Drunken Barn Dance's Jim Roll) is a stumbling, beautiful waltz through Americana as its only real genre. From opening rag/vaudeville of "Threadlines" to the evocative dustbowl instrumental "Antietam" (only lacking the Ken Burns narration to be convincingly antique) Jones is very much a graduate of School of Indie Anachronism.
Still, there's a a diversity to the approach that is refreshing: the dusty cowboy anthem "Jugulars, Bones and Blisters" is broken up by an unexpected synthesizer solo. "Waltzing With Lady Dawn" has a challenging, odd melody throwing touches of dissonance into it, held together by Jones' dancing voice.
Watching him perform live is mesmerizing. The man can fill a room only with his voice, guitar, and perhaps a touch of cello. Quiet, somber songs like "Holy Light" are absolutely breathtaking with lines like, "You took the soul from my songs 'cause the soul was bad," to crush your heart.
Whether solo or with his occasional sidemen, the Reconstruction, Matt Jones is a wonder and a local treasure worth seeking out. His album, The Black Path, is available on iTunes now and in battered, slightly worse for wear out of pocket of the man himself if you go up and buy him a drink after a show. For more information on Matt Jones, check out the man's Facebook.