“Understated, Honest, & Dark”: The Bones of J.R. Jones Lights a Fire in ‘A Celebration’ EP

The Bones of J.R. Jones © Christian Harder
The Bones of J.R. Jones © Christian Harder
An intimate, visceral outpouring of vulnerability, reflection, connection, and wonder, The Bones of J.R. Jones’ ‘A Celebration’ EP is true to its name through and through: It’s the sweetest kind of midnight reverie.
for fans of Lord Huron, Gregory Alan Isakov, Hozier
Stream: “Stay Wild” – The Bones of J.R. Jones

The songs were about the night, freedom, wanderment, feeling insignificant and vulnerable and how to embrace that feeling of being exposed – I wanted it be a celebration of all those things.

Jonathon Linaberry’s musical exploits have always known how to rock, but never before has the The Bones of J.R. Jones smoldered with so much raw soul. That’s where his latest EP comes into view: An intimate, visceral outpouring of vulnerability, reflection, connection, and wonder, A Celebration is true to its name through and through: It’s the sweetest kind of midnight reverie.

A Celebration - The Bones of J.R. Jones
A Celebration – The Bones of J.R. Jones
Tell me again
You’re the wildest one
Fill your lungs with the things you’ve done
I see your teeth
Shiny and sharp
Blackest eyes
And a swollen heart
Ohh won’t you howl with me
Ohh won’t you howl with me
– “Howl,” The Bones of J.R. Jones

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering A Celebration, The Bones of J.R. Jones’ stirring new six-track EP (out March 19, 2021). The latest offering from Catskills-based Jonathon Linaberry follows on the heels of 2018’s third LP Ones to Keep Close, and holds a particularly special place in the artist’s heart as his first thematic, conceptual record. Inspired by the American Southwest, the EP was written on his honeymoon during trips to Tucson, Bisbee, Joshua Tree, and more desert destinations – and indeed, its music adapts from a rich southern gothic sound blending acoustic warmth with drum machines, synths, ragged electric guitar work, and more.

The Bones of J.R. Jones © Christian Harder
The Bones of J.R. Jones © Christian Harder

A Celebration was my first effort in writing an overall theme for a release,” Linaberry explains. “Up until this point all my releases were based solely on songs alone and not on a single inspiration point for the entire body of work. The idea behind all of this was that it was going to be a creative deliverance for myself—something purely indulgent and visceral that wouldn’t require me get too heady about it and be worried by all the weight and intention that comes from releasing a full length. My intention was to keep these songs simple, trim, and true.”

“With that in mind I approached my good friend Kiyoshi Matsuyama and asked him to help me produce this body of work. The songs were written but I needed to bounce production ideas of a sounding board and Kiyoshi has great instincts. We kept the recording process easy, which I am eternally grateful for. Most days there was three of us in the studio (myself, Kiyoshi and the sound engineer Jeff Fetig). It felt incredibly good to have such a small footprint. It gave us space to try things out and helped with the fluidity of recording.”

A Celebration was initially intended to be a “light” lift—something for me to work on while spending time in the deserts outside Tucson. The songs were about the night, freedom, wanderment, feeling insignificant and vulnerable and how to embrace that feeling of being exposed – I wanted it be a celebration of all those things. My initial worry was that the chaos, darkness, and uncertainty of 2020 was going to overshadow a lot of my intention with these songs but the changing of the year and the hope that comes along with that transition has given me renewed confidence that this is the right time to share these songs.”

I don’t mind the night
And the dark it brings to my skies
Cause then we can run
To kingdom come and to the sun arise
Come on mama, stay wild
Take every bit of me
Take what you need and I will thrive
Cause the beauty of it all
Is in the danger of the fall
I want the tinny taste of love
Across my teeth, I want to feast
I want to be a storm raging
I want to believe in the American Dream
Come on mama, believe
– “Stay Wild,” The Bones of J.R. Jones

Opening with the heated, heartfelt lilt of “Stay Wild,” A Celebration immediately lights a strong fire. The poignant, slower “Howl” offers a moment of solace and reckoning as the artist sings a vivid ode to another: “Ohh won’t you howl with me,” he croons against his tender acoustic and the hypnotic lilt of a steel guitar.

Linaberry maintains a sense of purpose, but moreover, a strong sense of connection and contentment throughout this record. From his beautiful falsetto singing in “Bad Moves,” to the aching harmonies throughout “Keep It Low,” he injects his music with self-aware passion and appreciation. The EP’s final two tracks, “Like an Old Lover” and “A Celebration,” are quiet numbers full of depth, color, and nuance; together, they bring to a close this stirring set, instilling a sense of hope, possibility, and light in the darkness.

This is what tranquility sounds like. A Celebration stays true to its name, weaving a world of wonder around our ears as it sets our hearts and minds at ease.

This is a thinking person’s record; a record for those in repose, for dreamers, and for anyone who’s ever stepped back to examine their life and saw that it was good. After the year we’ve all had, this spring looks to be one full of hope; perhaps A Celebration can be the soundtrack to our own personal renewal and rejuvenation.

Experience the full record via our exclusive stream, and peek inside The Bones of J.R. Jones’ A Celebration EP with Atwood Magazine in our in-depth interview below!

— —

:: stream/purchase A Celebration here ::
Stream: ‘A Celebration’ EP – The Bones of J.R. Jones
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/913298719?secret_token=s-5Y2sPzjf8cb” params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&visual=true&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”300″ iframe=”true” /]


A Celebration - The Bones of J.R. Jones

Atwood Magazine: Jonathon, I understand this record is quite a long time in the making. Can you share a little about the story behind it, and why you’re choosing to release it now?

Jonathon Linaberry: This record was born out of spending time in the Southwest.  Specifically, Tucson, Bisbee, and outside Joshua Tree.  My wife and I have been going to those areas for years and the feeling it imprints on me is reflected in the record.  Why now? well, truth be told in my heart I feel like it was ready to come out over a year ago, but things happened.  I love these songs and I have been trying to time the release with the mood of the world, I guess.  It feels like there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I want the record to be associated with that.

What was your vision going into this record? Did that change over the course of recording this?

Jonathon Linaberry: I wanted the record to capture the feeling of the desert at night.  Long drives.  The smell of creosote as the desert cools.  And the endless vastness that surrounds in the middle of nowhere.  A couple of years ago, I wrote a list of things I wanted this record to resemble.  I was staying at the Hotel Congress in Tucson and felt like I needed to write.  I didn’t have a guitar with me so I wrote some key words down to help me remember.  I kept that paper with me during the recording process and every time I was unsure of a direction I checked it.  It definitely kept me focused on what I wanted to the record to say.

The Bones of J.R. Jones © Christian Harder
The Bones of J.R. Jones © Christian Harder

Why the title “A Celebration”? What drove you specifically toward these more uplifting sounds and songs?

Jonathon Linaberry: I wanted to celebrate the feeling of being vulnerable and exposed.  The feeling of being insignificant because the world is open for miles around you and forcing yourself to recognize the freedom that comes when you realize you are just part of the landscape.   Personally, I don’t think the songs are incredibly uplifting. haha.  There’s a lot to unpack in the lyrics.  But you are right the sounds are definitely more light than my previous records.  I guess I wanted to impart the dreaminess of the inspiration.  The desert doesn’t scream rock’n’roll to me. It’s more subtle.  It’s wild and brutal, but also completely placid and serene at the same time.  I was thinking about that during the production.

How do you feel A Celebration pushes your artistry forward?

Jonathon Linaberry: I think it definitely is my most cohesive release up until this point.  I’ve never really focused on one theme for a whole release… so it was fun and challenging to write and produce these songs all with common goal.

There’s something a little rough around the edges about these songs; something august and raw. Can you talk about the recording process and your direction here?

Jonathon Linaberry: I was definitely going to for something honest with the production and recording of these songs.  To me that means, ambient noises, imperfect takes, unpolished.  I think one of my favorite moments is on the track “A Celebration”… you can hear motorcycle pass by the studio just as we are coming out of the bridge.  It works perfectly.  I couldn’t have planned it better.

Why open with ''Stay Wild''?

Jonathon Linaberry: “Stay Wild” was the first of the six I wrote. It felt appropriate to have it come first as none of the other songs were exist without it.  It was the template.

I was really taken with “Howl” - it’s a beautiful Western folk tune. Can you speak a little more to this song’s sound?

Jonathon Linaberry: Thank you. One of my favorites too. “Howl” is one of those rare cases, where the song came easy.  I wanted to write a song that was ghostly and timid but reflected the urge of find someone to be wild with.

As a lyrically forward artist, do you have any favorite lyrics in these songs?

Jonathon Linaberry: Lyrically my two favorite songs are Stay Wild and Keep It Low.  I suppose if there was one line that always holds me it would be, “I want the tinny taste of love across my teeth.  I want to feast.”

Do you have any definitive favorites or personal highlights off this record?

Jonathon Linaberry: “Stay Wild” is probably the song I am most proud of.  I wish I could write songs like that all the time.

What do you hope listeners take away from A Celebration? What have you taken away from creating it and now putting it out?

Jonathon Linaberry: I just hope it feels honest and resonates with people.  I hope the understated, restrained songs about feeling vulnerable and raw translates.  It’s tough for me to reflect without judgement on something I’ve put my heart into.  I suppose from a professional stand point I’ve learned how to write with a single purpose.  I am already ready to record a new record and I am trying imagine all these new songs with the same focus as I did A Celebration.  We will see what happens.

Aside from getting out there and playing/touring again, what are you most looking forward to in 2021?

Jonathon Linaberry: Good Tacos, Cold beer, and friends.

— —

:: stream/purchase A Celebration here ::

— — — —

A Celebration - The Bones of J.R. Jones

Connect to The Bones of J.R. Jones on
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
Discover new music on Atwood Magazine
? © Christian Harder

:: The Bones of J.R. Jones ::

More from Mitch Mosk
Exclusive Premiere: Ben Hobbs’ “Take The Blame” Is a Vulnerable, Ominous Anthem
Recommended If You Like: The 1975, HONNE, Tears for Fears Is that...
Read More