Review Summary: The Stereophonics front man shows us why it's just not enough being the lead singer of one of Britain's biggest exports.
It's a little known fact that Kelly Jones writes screenplays. Sure, he's definitely more renown for his work with Brit Alt band Stereophonics, but it's a wonderful insight into knowing
his music. Early this year, Jones released a solo effort on V2 Records (also Stereophonics' label). The album was apparently recorded in 36 hours flat and features Jones with either just an electric, or backed by a minimalist string section.
Only The Names has 10 songs all titled with names of women. The album cover is plain black with text, a premonition to what's inside. At the outset, it's thoughtful. There's descriptions of circumstance, accusation and situation aplenty. It's like 10 short films put together with the same ambiance
to make a movie, all about women and relationships with them.
What defines Kelly Jones as an artist apart from his very distinctive voice that slides easily between raspy cries and pop loud, is his understanding and subsequent development of song. And this is perfectly brought out in this solo outing. Each of the songs tells a story and yet manages to be acoustic pop at its best.
Suzy is an unfailing opener about a lost love. It's a little cheesy particularly at the end when he cries "Bye, bye little Suzy"
but it just 'fits' pleasantly with the lazy bluesy guitar. And that's basically the essence of this album. It's a short trip that gets over before you know it. Not exactly Sunday listening, but Friday evening on your own fits it well. Rosie tells the story of a children's nurse, and has some more instrumental elements in it, but luckily stays clear of overdoing it.
The best song on the album has to be the thoroughly depressing Jayne. It's not 'obviously' appealing, it grows on you and stays there. Jayne is your atypical "she left me" song but Jones' voice is so thoroughly hopeless (and I don't mean that in a bad way) it provides a moving visual to everything he says.
There are some places though where it is apparent that 36 hours may not have been enough. Songs like Violet and Jean leave you wishing there was some sort of percussion accompaniment. And the album closer Summer is just well, an obvious filler.
This is not one of those records that you'll have on loop all day. But every time you do revisit it, you'll be glad you did.