Having just won Best Guitarist at the 2020 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN, popular Canadian blues artist JW Jones was looking forward to a huge year before COVID-19 hit and halted his tour schedule.
“I knew I had to do something productive to stay positive,” said the Juno nominee, whose searing axemanship has been praised in recent years by legendary blues artists Buddy Guy and Robert Cray. “I turned isolation into inspiration.”
From original music to previously-unreleased songs, his new album, due Aug. 14, “sounds bigger and wider than ever,” JW said. “Thanks to Eric Eggleston of Johnny Hall Productions, who has wicked ears and a fresh approach to the production values.”
The project features a 17-piece band with a 13-piece horn section, plus additional vocal and guitar tracks and studio effects, all of which led to the perfect album title: Sonic Departures.
High production values didn’t take priority over keeping it real, though. “Every single guitar solo on this record, with the exception of one, was recorded in one take, and it was the first and only take, with the band and horn section performing together in the same room,” JW revealed.
After releasing Live less than two years ago, the roots radio favourite and frequent resident of Billboard’s Top 10 Blues charts has continued to accelerate his career, fielding personal requests to sit-in with the likes of blues legend Buddy Guy, opening for blues-rock icons Johnny Winter and George Thorogood or entertaining thrilled audiences in 23 countries and four continents.
In addition to his touring band, Will Laurin (drums, harmony vocals) and Jacob Clarke (upright bass, electric bass, harmony vocals), JW brought longtime band-mate Jesse Whiteley back into the fray to play keys and write some of the horn charts for this album. Kaz Kazanoff of the Texas Horns penned horn arrangements for two of the original songs from his home in Austin between dates with Jimmie Vaughan.
“My wife, Brit, sings harmonies on several tracks, and it really brings a classic vibe to the jump blues numbers,” JW said. And just to add a little twist, there is even a vocal sample performed by his 15-month old daughter