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  • Chris Farlie

Rob Jones & The Restless Dream - Trees

When an EP arrives and it has the likes of Chris Hillman on guitars, strings by Colin Elliot (as featured on the albums of Richard Hawley). and backing vocals from our favourite resident Kiwi Grace Kelly then our interest was most definitely piqued.

The EP "Trees" from Rob Jones & The Restless Dream has come to fill a gap that we hadn't realised had appeared and that is of the quality singer songwriter. Rob's songs are four little nuggets that need to be unearthed and shared with the world as soon as possible. A combination excellent lyrics matched to top quality tunes - all excellently realised.

There are sprinklings of great songwriters, a little Springsteen here, a hint of Dire Straits there while all the time it remains fiercely original and inventive.

"Heart of the Storm" opens the EP and provides the line that gives the EP its name - there's a definite hint of Mark Knopfler in the guitar line, which is a distant cousin of "Sultans Of Swing" without getting to close to it, which when combined with a piano and some nifty percussion make for a powerful introduction in to what becomes a pure pop song.

There is a hint of unrequited love, in that the female figure of the song comes and goes and while Rob clearly has feelings he is accepting that this is the way things must be, and that no matter how many times she leaves, she will always be welcomed back.

Rob's vocals have a rich rough soulful timbre to them that is so endearing.

"In the heart of this storm I will leave the back light on

You can come into get warm when night grows cold

In the morning when you leave I'll try not to feel aggrieved

I'll just sit out beneath the trees and watch you go"

Rob has a lovely turn of phrase, in the example below, the alliteration of the first line below matched to the water related imagery of the second

"In the silver sunlight of a winters day

"You sold me down the river - I watched you sail away"

As openers go it is as perfect a combination of of music and harmony as you could wish for.

"Cut So Deep" simply hooks you in from the opening piano riff and that's just the beginning, for this comes with strings, pedal steel from Chris CJ Hillman and a chorus to die for, which gets rewritten each time it appears as Rob ponders the question

"Who knew that love could cut so deep?"

The song opens with Rob post break up - although hailing from the North West, he has a voice that could so easily come from the US,

"I've been thinking about an old song - I've been dreaming about your eyes

I've been scheming into my coffee - weaving stories telling lies"

The chorus as mentioned earlier gets rewritten each time we visit it, the tune and the instrumentation are simply sumptuous especially with those strings that wrap around you like a warm coat on a winters day.

"And every morning when I wake without you there - it's like I'm drowning in a breathless sleep

Then the moments when I see you everywhere - the world around me starts to weep

Who knew that love could cut so deep?"

It is all wonderfully eloquent and believable with the feelings of loss coming in separate waves.

"and every time I think I see my former self, I turn my collar and I cross the street

and as I'm walking I can hear cathedral bells since when did sorrow sound so sweet

Who knew that love could cut so deep?"

The final verse sees Rob joined by #TEAMw21 favourite Grace Kelly on backing vocals and the last chorus with everybody playing is a sheer joy.

"These lonely words can only hope to bring to light - the shapes I see in the heat

and all these lessons I have learnt about the night - won't ever make me feel complete

Who knew that love could cut so deep?"

"Ballerina", the lead single, is another tune that attracts the listener instantly with it's simple yet addictive piano intro and gently picked guitar.

"It's raining again in my head -

It's thunder again in my bed

Searching for something red

Under a pale blue sky"

There seems to be more of Rob once again hoping and praying that things will fall into place and being prepared to wait.

"I'll write you a song so sweet so you can play

Something that makes you think of me each day

I'm shivering here like a stranger in the hall

Just waiting to hear you call"

The chorus is a direct contrast between the natural beauty of a ballerina on stage and the beauty of nature, enhanced by the rhythmic alliterative qualities of the lyrics

"You can be my Ballerina - dancing away the dark

Softer than the sunset spilling out across the sea

A concertina keeps on playing in my heart

Rising like a river - then dying like a dream"

It finds Rob desperate to get the smallest of rewards

I'd wander the depths of hell just to see you smile"

Rob dedication to perseverance is summed up by the line "I'll wait till the end of time"

The EP closes with "Caroline" which offers another divine piano intro, that nods at Springsteen's "Thunder Road" before opening out into a mid paced Country tune - with Chris Hillman's pedal steel prominent.

If some of the songs have been about waiting for a relationship, this one seems to be more looking back at one

All I ask of you is that you remember to forget about it all"

The chorus sees the band on top form, each individual element is the absolute best that it could be which makes it joyfully accessible.

"Two hearts on the line - with broken stairs and turpentine

Don't waste you prayers on me cos i'll be fine"

The theme of natural beauty, that recurs throughout the album, that is after all named "Trees" materialises once more.

"In these shadows of the mountains

By the steps to the lagoon

Here amongst the statues and the fountains

Glowing pale as the moon - just waiting here for you"

and it is easy to picture Rob glancing out as he recollects

"Watch the river meet the rain - see they're both the same

The pleasure and the pain."

There is a poetic sadness in Rob's final reflections which draw the song and the EP to its conclusion.

"For once the fires dance into the embers

and burn out into blue, like all we'll ever do"

"Trees" is an EP that does not put a foot wrong from beginning to end, the production captures each of the participants perfectly and shows them off at their absolute peak, while Rob's lyrics and vocal delivery are to be savoured. It will surely send you hastily scurrying to check out Rob's equally entertaining "Castles" EP , for more of his work.

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