Whether you consider his music Americana, acoustic or alt-country, Jiggley Jones has something to say. On his latest album, titled A Mountain, A Struggle, A Tunnel, A Light, he goes for the emotional, raw gut-punch on each of the meager six tracks. Lead by his current single "Walk On Me" (also the haunting opening track), the album strikes a chord between truly organic stories and memorable hooks. It's hard to find that balance, but Jones has more than managed to deliver. "[The album title's] my metaphor for life," he says in an exclusive NashvilleGab interview.
"Everybody struggles across mountains (in the difficult times in their life). Hopefully, there’s a shortcut…or tunnel," he continues. "The light at the end of the tunnel is what you’re always looking for. It tied all the songs together, not that it is a concept album or anything. I came up with the name of the record after the songs were picked. I put them in a certain order and listened to them. I was carrying a pen and paper around with me for a couple weeks, jotting around different titles. One morning, with a cup of coffee, this one came to me and stuck out."
On the process of nailing down the perfect track list, he says, "The whole process is difficult in its own ways, even as far as picking titles, too. I have a tendency to overanalyze. You can try different songs back to back, listening to the ending of one and the beginning of another. It takes a while to do it, but in the long run, you are more satisfied."
The album, produced by Dave Moody, finds Jones digging into Americana for the first time in a long time. "[Dave] was great in the studio. He made a really great atmosphere. It was relaxed. He picked some great musicians to play on it. He was very influential in putting the music into a certain genre. He put me more squarely into the Americana genre than I was before, which was what I was looking for," Jones says of the recording sessions. "He’s a great musician himself. He really solidified a lot of the music on the songs. He didn’t really mess with the songs much at all from the original arrangements. He directed the other musicians in how they put their spin to it."
Surprisingly, Jones was previously the front man of a New York-based rock band called Q that was "more aggressive" than his current work. "[That was] in the mid to late ‘90s. We were [a little like] the Red Hot Chili Peppers," he says. "New York is a great city. People were very open minded. That was probably the best band man-for-man that I was ever in. We had some people at MTV that we knew and gave us an opportunity to have some music put on soundtrack stuff. It was when I was really young. It was a lot of fun. It was one of those things that it just didn’t work out in the end."
On Light, Jones finds himself returning to his "roots." "As a child, I listened to a lot of things like the Eagles and more classic rock. This is more my comfort level now," he says. "As far as the Americana genre, it’s not that I picked it to be in, it’s just the way the music went. On the business end, the people involved are the ones that sort of picked that direction."
But, admittedly, he doesn't believe music should have labels. In fact, that's one of his pet peeves. He explains, "That’s a business thing. That’s what they do to pigeonhole you. It’s for marketing purposes. I believe in good music or bad music. I guess it’s more convenient if you are looking for a certain type of music. I guess that might be because I don’t have a concrete genre. I touch on country, rock, folk. That’s not done on purpose; it’s just how it came out. I’m hanging out bouncing out between the three."
You can certainly understand where he's coming from when you take a listen to his single "Walk On Me," a song written some years ago. "That song is actually the oldest song on the record. I originally did it a couple years back. It was more of a rock song, then. I liked it so much, I never let go of it," he says. "When I redid it, I slowed it down a bit and made it more acoustic and changed the key–made it a little more soulful. The melody was always something that was really strong to me. That’s why I redid it."
"When the label picked the song for the record, I was shocked. It’s one of those songs that just came out and flowed really nice from the get go," he adds.
On how the song came to be, he notes his usual songwriting process: "Usually when I write songs, I have the lyrics last. I’ll come up with the guitar progression, with a scat vocal (vocals without words) and it gives me an emotion or feel of the song might have. Specifically, I can’t remember why those lyrics [to this song] came out. It just happened. It wasn’t something I was dealing with personally at the time."
To bring that searing recorded quality to his live shows, he likes to go acoustic, at least for now. "Right now, I’m playing acoustic, just me and a guitar. The songs are being presented in their infant forms. A lot of people like that; they get to hear what I was feeling when I wrote the song. I would love to do the full band thing. I can’t wait for the day that that’s the case. But for now, this is much more easy to get it together and keep it together, just to go out and do it myself," he says.
At the 2013 International Music and Entertainment Association (IMEA) Awards, Jones was award the illustrious Songwriter of the Year honor. While it is a "great feeling," he doesn't let that moment define his music or where he goes next. "To be recognized for what I feel I do the best in my life. Everybody’s good at something, and that’s something I always felt I had a shot of being good at. It was great to finally somebody in the industry to recognize that. It helped in my positive outlook of what I was doing," he says.
Going forward, he hopes to continue bringing his unique brand of music to more and more fans. "I like to separate my writing from my performing. Right now, it’s all about performance," he says of his plans for 2014. "The record is out, and I need to get it out [even more] as much as possible. It’s going to take the rest of this year to make it work. That’s where my focus is now. I can’t wait to get back to creating; that’s my favorite thing. But it’s one thing at a time."
Grab a copy of A Mountain, A Struggle, A Tunnel, A Light on iTunes now!
Photos Courtesy of Lamon Records
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