Haunted Hobo Music
If you were to pick only one word to sum up Stone Jack Jones’ new record, Love & Torture, one couldn’t go wrong with ‘haunted.’ ‘Jarring,’ ‘disjointed,’ and ‘disquieting’ would also be good options. This record transports the listener into its own self-contained universe. The song structures are simple, as are the lyrics, but somewhere in between recording the component tracks and the producer’s addition of musique concrète elements, a whole world is created. This world is one seen through the eyes of a road-weary wanderer that has seen every road, every byway, the very underbelly of America in a mystical light, like if Johnny Cash collaborated with Tim Burton.
This album feels as if it’s built in such a way as to intentionally disorient the listener, to throw them for loop. Traditional acoustic elements are mixed with distorted drum loops and snippets of ambient noise. Elements feel like they drift in and out of time with each other. The first track, “Shine,” is particularly hard to get into on the first listen through. It was only after the third listening that the elements finally began to snap into focus.
But all of these seemingly contradictory elements work. “Q and K,” built on top of a bluegrass banjo loop, explores the same star-crossed lovers territory that David Bowie plumbs in “Heroes.” “Disappear” sounds like a collaboration between the Drive By Truckers and Kool Keith’s Dr. Dooom persona.
This album is a heavy listen. It’s not so much listening to this record as experiencing it, and some of that experience is not particularly pleasant. This isn’t meant as a slam. The emotional impact of this record is a powerful one, composed of sadness, enui, memories and ghosts and regrets. It’s a hard listen, but a good one.