Under the Stone
A native New Yorker who now divides his time between Tesuque, New Mexico,and Italy, Jono Manson has long been a master of the high art of low-rent song craft. But never has he cut as close to the bone as on “Under The Stone”, the title track from his latest self-produced CD. As high and lonesome as anything off the O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack, it kicks off with a pitch-perfect invocation – “World of trouble/ World of worry/ Carry on / carry on” – and proceeds to home in on death with unblinking eyes.
Recounting a hardscrabble life in which “a hundred prayers/ A thousand needles/ Won’t stop the pain,” Manson returns repeatedly to a mantra that makes the ultimate case for cremation: “The spirit won’t visit the bones/ Under the stone.” The song is even more potent in the stripped-down acoustic version included as a bonus track.
Though “Under The Stone” is the album’s crown jewel, it is studded with other gems as well. “Walking Down Your Street” is a back-porch picker that tucks a hard-luck tale inside a happy go-lucky shuffle. “Gunhill Road” celebrates two late, great bass players: Loup Garou’s Jim Gregory, who co-wrote the shit-kickin’ rocker with Neil Thomas; and Blues Traveler’s Bobby Sheehan, who plays on the track and toured with Manson for many years in High Plains Drifter. Both date back to the old New York bar-band scene, invoked as a raucous last-call anthem in “The Night Before The Morning After”.
CREE McCREE - NO DEPRESSION MAGAZINE - OCTOBER 2002