matthew perryman jones
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matthew perryman jones

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"We like most everything about Daniel Lanois' solo work-the ambient layers of space, silence and sonic swells perfectly complementing his ruminations on the spirit and the flesh-but his voice can be an acquired taste.

On his debut, Throwing Punches in the dark, local songsmith Matthew Perryman Jones comes off like Lanois in most every positive aspect, but Jones' tender tenor takes no getting used to. Jones delivers some tunes with the kind of crossover pop appeal that will finally give all those unsatisfied, Shrek soundrack-hating Counting Crows fans something to be happy about". -Jason Moon Wilkins - The Nashville Rage


Discography

Nowhere Else But Here (2001)
For the Road-EP (2003)
Throwing Punches in the Dark (2006)
Swallow the Sea (2008)
The Distance in Between EP (2010)

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Bio

“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.” --Vincent Van Gogh

To surrender oneself to their art can sometimes be a refining process. For singer/songwriter Matthew Perryman Jones, it has meant letting go of old demons and embracing who he is, idiosyncrasies and all.

Jones’s love of music began with a collection of vinyl records in the late 80s. Upon moving to Nashville a decade later, he set out to pursue his own career in songwriting. He recorded his first full-length project, Nowhere Else But Here, in 2001 on the cusp of a difficult period in his life; an EP titled For the Road followed in 2004. Though he gained critical success and maintained a busy schedule touring clubs and coffeehouses, Jones eventually became half-hearted about his material and decided to take a break from music to get married, settle down, and reflect.

It’s not so surprising that Jones is an artist who requires periods of introspection; his persona spills with paradoxes. He admits to being “hyper-intuitive which can often lead to hyper-insecurity” and feels uncomfortable if he looks too nice. “I am self-deprecating and egotistical, scatterbrained and focused,” explains Jones. But that just makes him all the more intriguing.

For the artist’s new album, Throwing Punches In the Dark---a comeback of sorts---Jones tacked his self-consciousness to the wall and jumped headlong into his new songs with guidance from producer Neilson Hubbard. Though he entered the studio with some half-finished lyrics, Jones found the freedom to let his stream of thought flow. “Neilson was great about reminding me that I don’t have to write a novel into a song, “he says. “It challenged my tendency to over-think a song into the garbage can.

The result is a collection of high-momentum melodic rock tunes with Jones’s smooth vocal edge, along with bittersweet ballads, and powerful odes to his ailing father. While Jones is known for being a story-songwriter, on Throwing Punches he pulls out all the stops and delivers a well-rounded, full-band album. Most songs bend the spotlight toward his penetrating voice and ethereal guitar sounds, but echoes of glockenspiel, omnichord, and strings are tossed in for texture.

“I approached [this album] like hopping in a car and seeing what places I would find, without needing to know where I was going,” says Jones. “I think you find out more about what you’re made of when you put yourself in unpredictable circumstances.”

There’s a lot that’s unpredictable about Throwing Punches. Because Jones admits to having a bend toward melancholy and bouts of unexplainable sadness, themes like mystery and longing are woven throughout the album. But there’s a lively backdrop of sounds and a hooky element as well.

I thought about calling this record “Vincent Blue,” Jones explains. “The night skies in Van Gogh’s paintings all have that same dark blue that swirls with a touch of madness, but that madness, to me, feels more like a fierce fight for life, with all the tension that comes with it. It’s a fight to keep on believing, even when mystery keeps the clear answers veiled. It’s a good fight…a positive fight, but a fight none the less.”

In many ways, Throwing punches represents a spiritual, relational, and creative journey Jones has been on since his twenties. Now thirty-two, he has come to accept his identity as an artist, a fortunate thing for those who have been awaiting his return to music.

“There have been seasons in my life where I have tried to adjust who I am to fit into this foggy idea of what normal is, and it always ends up feeling like shoes that are too small,” he reflects. “I went to college, worked several jobs--from a commercial plumber to a white-shirt salesman--trying to find my niche. I exhausted myself trying to be a ‘regular guy’ and it just didn’t work. So I opted for a life of writing and performing music, living on the road, being homeless from time to time, and not having a regular paycheck. This felt like home to me.”

Home these days means being in Nashville with his wife Meghan, and following a renewed passion for performing. But Jones’s colorful imagination and vagabond spirit still live on within his songs.

“Through the years I have learned, and am still learning, to be comfortable in my own skin,” he observes. “I think I have come into what my design is, little by little, and I want to live there and flourish in it, without apologies. What I like about being an artist is just being myself and feeling that I’m contributing a little bit to the bigger picture.”

by Kierstin Berry (Eb+Flo Music)