The much anticipated second release from this roots-rock couple and their musical cohorts, Magnolia shows the growth and creative cohesiveness that two years of work can yield. More songwriter/roots-based than their previous album "Le Grande Soiree", but still has their blues roots in the undertones.
The nine originals and one cover on this record takes the listener on a personal journey with the song writers. From full-band upbeat rockers to plaintive, soulful vocal/guitar numbers, they tell their story with honesty from the heart.
In particular, the opener, Long Time Coming, describes how the couple came together out of the chaos of Hurricane Katrina. The second cut, Love Remains, an ode to the family that inspires them. Song For Melissa, an instrumental open love letter, features a beautiful four piece horn arrangement and expressive organ accompaniment in addition to the heartfelt guitar melody. The title track, Magnolia, tells the sweet tale of love's budding, in the form of Melissa's tender vocal with acoustic and electric guitar accompaniment.
Those familiar with Sweet Jones' first release, the live Le Grande Soiree, will recognize three of the songs here- I Got My Own, Smokey Joe and I've Seen. During the interim, the couple re-visited these songs feeling they weren't quite finished. What you hear now is the final evolution of these pieces. In Melissa's words, "Songs have a way of letting you know how they need to sound." Matthew follows with "As songwriters, we need to be open to the possibility we weren't right the first time and let the process unfold. Even if that means re-writing the same song a few different ways."
The one cover on the record is the song What's Up by Linda Perry (4 Non Blondes). This was a request by their good friends Kimberly and Amber Wolf. Kimberly was fighting cancer at the time and her daughter Amber put together a benefit concert which she invited Sweet Jones to play. They worked up the song at Kimberly's request as it was her favorite song. It was so well received at the show, especially by Kimberly, they began including it in their regular live repertoire. Not long after, Amber approached Melissa and Matthew about helping to fund a recording to include this song. By her generosity and love, they started what would become Magnolia. Kimberly was a bright, strong spirit, but did not survive her cancer before this record was finished. They worked on her song to completion before continuing the rest of the recording. She was able to enjoy her song before leaving us for the spirit realm.
As always, it's about the journey. The steps we take, the lessons we learn, and the love we share along the way.